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Keywords:

  • executive cognition;
  • strategic change;
  • executive values;
  • national culture

Abstract

While top executives are argued to play a central role in strategic adaptation, evidence suggests that they are not equally open to organizational change. This study extends earlier investigation of the determinants of top executive commitment to the status quo (CSQ) to the international arena, examining the influence of cultural values on executive open-mindedness toward change. Using data from a survey of top managers in 20 countries, analyses reveal that values of individualism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and long-term orientation are significantly related to executives’ adherence to existing strategy and leadership profiles. Further, while confirming earlier findings that industry tenure is positively related to strategy CSQ, results show that tenure does not significantly affect leadership CSQ once cultural values are controlled. In summary, the findings reveal that culture has an important impact on executive mindsets, as demonstrated by the fact that executives of differing cultural background are not equally open to change in organizational strategy and leadership profiles. Second, the findings suggest that executives’ views of appropriate leadership profiles reflect the imprint of cultural socialization moreso than professional experience. Finally, and more broadly, the study offers empirical support for the view that values figure prominently in shaping executives’ strategic and leadership orientations. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd