Cultural intelligence and openness: essential elements of effective global leadership

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Globalisation has „flattened the world‟ and there is no escaping this major change in societal and business circumstances (Friedman, 2005; Greider, 1998; Sirkin et al, 2008). Globalisation may be defined as the sharply accelerated nearly worldwide integration of trade, finance, technology, production systems and information (Coghill, 1997). It involves the disappearance of cultural borders and the rise of a new "borderless world‟ (Ohmae, 2005). As a result of globalisation, the workforce has become increasingly diverse with respect to national and cultural origins. Technology has been the great enabler for this third wave of globalisation (Friedman, 2005). It has enabled organisations to conduct business anywhere and to expand operations beyond their national borders for both customers and employees. Business process outsourcing, world sourcing, off-shoring and near-shoring are all possible because of technology (Sirkin et al, 2008). Today, work assignments are increasingly performed by teams consisting of members that are located in different countries (Shapiro et al, 2005). Organisations with the capacity to manage cultural issues will out-perform those who are less able to manage these issues (Ang & Inkpen, 2008; Thomas & Inkson, 2004). Global leadership can play a significant role in managing this international workforce.

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