Go to main navigation Navigation menu Skip navigation Home page Search

Swedish culture, leadership and organizational practices in an international perspective.

The main objective of this research effort is to develop systematic knowledge concerning the relationship between culture, leadership, and organizational practices.

The project is part of a large international joint research program involving more than 60 nations and 130 social scientists. The GLOBE project.

Leadership as cultural expression

In this project, leadership is seen as cultural expression. The strongly held belief that cultures vary (e.g. between nations, industries and organizations) means that different conceptions and expressions of leadership can be expected.

To investigate this issue, one project focuses on middle managers' conceptions of outstanding leadership and effective organizational practices. A questionnaire study involves approximately 900 respondents, active within three different industries: food processing, banking, and telecommunications. This empirical material also includes data on cultural indicators on the organizational and societal level.

Furthermore, ethnographic interviews and focus group interviews have been conducted. This qualitative material along with the quantitative data presents a rich image of the leadership phenomenon in the Swedish business context.

Media as a cultural producer

Culture is not a static phenomenon.  It is constantly reproduced through action, and some actors have more influence than others on the production of culture. Educational institutions, consultants, and the media are all potentially influential actors in our society.

A second project captures the construction of outstanding leadership in the Swedish media. Using a structured content analysis method, the underlying images (thought figures) of outstanding leadership in the (business) media is uncovered. Future projects within this research program are aimed at studying the relationships between Swedish leadership ideals and the everyday expression of these ideals in action.

Project leader:
Ingalill Holmberg

Research team:
Ingalill Holmberg and Staffan Åkerblom


Holmberg, I. and Åkerblom, S. (2007) "Primus Inter Pares" Leadership and Culture in Sweden. In Chokar, J. S., Brodbeck, F. & R.J., H. (Eds.) Culture and Leadership across the world: The GLOBE book of in-depth studies of 25 societies, Mahwah, New Jersey, LEA, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Holmberg, I. and Åkerblom, S. (2006) Modelling Leadership -Implicit Leadership Theories in Sweden, Scandinavian Journal of Management, 22, 4, 307-329.

Holmberg, I. & Åkerblom, S. (2001) The Production of Outstanding Leadership - an Analysis of Leadership Images Expressed in Swedish Media. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 17 (1): pp. 67-85.

In the Media

Holmberg, I. (2003) Är du av det globala virket? Chef, 4: pp. 9. »