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There are research studies about knowledge management and local knowledge which the present research must take into consideration. However, judging from the information which is available online, it is safe to say that this is a research area which still needs to be worked upon. The studies which already exist are limited to describing local needs in small communities through the world and the manner in which leaders of various types have reacted to them.
Cultural competencies refer to those skills and behaviours which allow an individual or an organisation to work in an efficient manner in a cross cultural environment. The mechanisms through which such a process becomes possible include understanding, appreciating, honouring and respecting both the similarities and the differences encountered between cultures. Again, the existing literature focuses mainly upon very specific case studies which are often based upon cultural situations which are located outside the United States. Analyzing these studies might help us come up with some conclusions. It would be interesting to test these conclusions against the western cultural environment in order to see their validity.
From what we have said so far, one might read between the lines that leaders are leaders because they are able to work comfortably in unfamiliar environments. What does this imply? We could assume that they either have a powerful capacity of understanding any type of environment and its thinking pattern or that they have the capacity to work in environments which remain hostile (or both). The literature addressing these issues is limited and the information available most often deals with conflict management. Under these circumstances, it would be interesting to see which are those characteristics that allow one to deal with unfamiliar tasks in the absence of fear. Diversity may be a positive factor, just as it could be a source of risk, according to the online literature. Managing diversity, preventing conflict and knowing how to smartly put an end to it are all aspects that the present research must deal with in depth.
A further point that we must deal with is represented by the capacity that is often attributed to leaders-that of being comfortable with change. "Leadership and change" is a very popular research theme and there is a lot more information regarding it compared to the three areas mentioned above. What all the studies agree with is that organizational change is here to stay and that some sort of model of organizational change is needed in order to deal with an environment in which stability has become a relative utopia. This model is not a fix scheme, but is made of beliefs, perceptions, intuitions and personal values. Therefore it is safe to say that creativity as well is part of the process under discussion. If leadership is supposed to be change-centred, under the circumstances in which both products and processes are affected, are there traits or actions which can be thought of as efficient for all the leadership styles?
5. Questions and hypotheses
One of the hypotheses that we will attempt to verify is that good leaders rely upon local knowledge and cultural competence. A further hypothesis that we will try to verify is that efficacious leadership skills must include factors such as comfort with working in unfamiliar environments, pace or being comfortable with change. The contemporary conditions in which leaders must undergo their activity suggest that these two hypotheses are valid.
6. Methods and procedures
The methods that we will use within the present research project are mostly analytical. The project is based upon a large amount of information from the areas of management, marketing, but also psychology. This information will be studied, discussed, analyzed and its conclusions will be correlated if possible. The purpose is to be able to come up with some concrete conclusions which can afterwards be practically applied to the field of leadership. Leaving aside the contemporary context of the crisis which started in the U.S.A. And then spread throughout Europe, we can say that the American economy has been a thriving one. Although change has never been such a present factor as it is today, it would be interesting to find out what top managers from the U.S. (but also from other countries) have to say about the issue. Under these circumstances the analytical method is no longer enough and other further investigative instruments will be needed.
7. Instrumentation -- surveys, interviews
As far as the instrumentation needed for the success of the present research project, it includes both surveys and interviews. Both instruments will be conceived in the best possible manner in order to address the manner in which top managers who believe themselves as leaders relate themselves to issues such as the need for local knowledge, cultural competencies, comfort with working in unfamiliar environments, comfort in dealing with change. While the surveys can provide quantifiable data, helping us to create profiles and also obtain insight regarding leadership styles and traits which they might have in common, the interviews will help us understand if the personal background of the interviewed played a fundamental role for the acquisition of his leader status, for the manner in which he reacts to the issues under discussion- and how.
8. Data analysis
The analysis of the data will be descriptive, correlative, interpretative. The descriptive part is needed in order to eliminate ambiguities and to clearly state which are the fundamental concepts that the final interpretation will be based upon. The correlations are needed in order to make relevant connections between data coming from various fields of study. Scientific literature will be used and also case studies of they are available. All the information will be connected with the conclusions reached through the use of the afore mentioned instruments.
9. Potential weaknesses
One of the potential risks that the research faces is the difficulty to reach a relevant number of leaders and get them involved in the project. Another risk is that of not having access to enough relevant information. We have already seen that the existing literature regarding the issues which concern us most is limited. Therefore we will have to rely a lot upon the results that our instruments will produce. A further risk is that of not reaching any concrete conclusion and remain in an area of analysis where everything may be valid just as well as it may be false. This is why the statistic instruments are needed, in order to be able to quantify the results of the research and avoid equivoques.
10. Significance of the study
As far as the audiences of the research are concerned, they are made of both professionals and peers. Taking into account the amount of relevant information which exists in the areas of interest mentioned at the beginning of the paper, it is safe to state that the present research will not only refine the knowledge, but it will also help the interested parties achieve a deeper insight. There are a lot of suppositions regarding the relation between cultural knowledge and leadership for example. The present research could develop and test these suppositions, reaching some valid conclusions. The same goes for the importance of cultural competences, of what they really are, how they can be learned, structured, used and developed. There is little knowledge regarding the issue of comfortably working in unfamiliar environments. Local knowledge and cultural competencies are supposed to be elements which facilitate this process. The present research can contribute to better understanding the mechanisms through which this is possible.
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