“Leadership Preferences in Japan” by Fukushige


The problem discussed in the article “Leadership preferences in Japan: an exploratory study” by Aya Fukushige and David P. Spicer is the leadership in Japan. This article will be the center of discussion in this report. The focus of the research is Bass and Avolio’s full-range leadership model and how cultural differences influence leadership performance. Moreover, the paper is going to research the nature of leadership preferences in Japan. The case study under consideration is focused on three main questions which present its purpose: how people percept leadership in contemporary Japan, how Bass and Avolio’s full-range leadership model may be applied to Japanese culture and whether there are any aspects of leadership in Japan that are not covered in Bass and Avolio’s full-range leadership model (Fukushige and Spicer 511).

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Full Range Leadership Model by Bass and Avalio

The current article presents the main idea of Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model and its implementation in Japanese society (Bass and Avalio 14). Looking at Bass and Avalio’s model it may be summarized that it has four transformational leadership scales, three transactional leadership scales and one non-leadership scale. Before considering the model’s influence on Japanese leadership, the components of the model should be deeper researched.

Transformational leadership is focused more on colleagues who try to reach their aims by means of four components. Idealized leadership presupposes that followers adore a leader and try to emulate him/her; the power, in this case, is used only for need, not for personal interests. Inspirational motivation is a type of transformational leadership when leaders inspire their followers by means of involving them in attractive future. Intellectual situation is a type of leadership when leaders try to stimulate their followers by means of creative ideas and reframing situations. Individualized consideration is leadership that focuses on individualized approach. The meaning is that much attention is paid to individual needs of people and by means of this desired goals are reached (Avolio, B.J. and Bass 2).

Turning to transactional leadership in Bass and Avolio’s full-range leadership model, it may be said that there are three components of such leadership: contingent reward, management by exception active, and management by exception passive. Focusing on each one separately, it may be stated that contingent reward presupposes financial support to those who manage to cope with the given task successfully. Management by exception active is aimed to follow the process by leaders in order to predict different mistakes and correct them. Management by exception passive is when leaders do nothing till errors do not occur and only then correct them. Laissez-faire leadership is not actually a leadership as it presupposes that leaders do nothing except monitoring of the work (Avolio, B.J. and Bass 3).

Perception of Leadership in Japan

The culture of Japan is specific. Being a contemporary country with its values and traditions, it continues to develop. The significant feature of Japanese cultural development is that it changes. Western values and priorities come to Japanese tradition through “internationalization and widespread management education” (Fukushige and Spicer 511). Moreover, Japanese culture is reflected in economical sphere of life. Therefore, some years ago a lifetime employment was a characteristic feature of the country, as well as loyalty to firms. Hodgetts and Luthans suggest that “culture can create some problems in using universal leadership concepts in countries such as Japan” (431). Discussing the specific Japanese culture and the implementation of Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model to it, the research by Aya Fukushige and David P. Spicer should be investigated deeper.

Applying of Full Bass and Avalio’s Range Leadership Model in Japan

Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model was developed in the USA and much research comes to the common conclusion that it is impossible to fully apply it to Japanese leadership. The main reason that is given is the difference of cultures. The cultures of the USA and Japan differ greatly, so it is impossible to say that full-range leadership model is relevant to Japan in all volumes (Tejeda et al. 36). Moreover, such model may be fully applied only in the USA and other Anglo-Saxon countries.

In fact, Bass argues this opinion stating that his theory may be easily implemented in any social and cultural diversity. The reason which he offers is that when a group of people comes together the leader is present, no matter what culture surrounds them. Furthermore, Bass presents the example of Alexander the Great and Lou Gerstner underlining that there is no difference in their leadership. Moreover, whether the company is ruled by one leader or by a group, whether the leader in the company is lazy or, vice versa, hardworking depends on the attitude to the work and leadership by these people and not restricted by country and its culture (Bass 131).

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The question of whether Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model may be implemented in Japan or not was developed by Aya Fukushige and David P. Spicer in their article. A deep research was conduct in two phases where followers were asked to evaluate their perception of leadership and culture. 12 Japanese participants took part in the first phase of the research. These 12 participants were selected randomly; they recognized themselves as the followers of Japanese leaders. The questionnaire was based on their general questions: “How do you recognize Japanese leadership?”, “What kind of leader do you prefer to work with?” and “How do you recognize Japanese culture?” (Fukushige and Spicer 511). The analysis of the data from the first phase was made by means of “Template analysis” that is available online (King).

The second phase of the research was conducted with the participation of 57 Japanese subjects who had to answer 15 questions. The questions were connected with Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model and Japanese culture. The data of this phase was analyzed with the help of “Content analysis” (Thomas 227). It may be noted that research was conducted in Japanese, all questions and responses were translated into English by the authors of the article.

Finding and Discussion

The conducted research made it possible to answer three questions that were put at the beginning of the case study. First, followers of leaders noticed the change in the structure of employment and leadership. Men are not dominant anymore; there is a tendency for equality of genders. Individualism is recognized in Japanese society, while collectivism is not popular anymore. Moreover, seniority is not respected in the working sphere as before; it has given away to meritocracy. The same results were achieved by Shibata and Watanabe. Shibata is sure that “employees’ age and seniority have become less important” (312). The working system becomes similar to the USA system. It is observed the “increase in the number of female workers and in the number of women who continue working through marriage, childbirth and childcare, balancing both professional and family life” (Watanabe 121).

The research showed the followers’ attitude to Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model. The respondents supported intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration and contingent reward. At the same time, they rejected the individualized influence and inspirational motivation. It must be also underlined that the laissez-faire component of the model was not supported by any of the participants. This is the main proof that Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model is unacceptable in the full volume to Japanese society. The only explanation for the issue may be that cultural significance of Japanese people differs greatly from Americans (Fukushige and Spicer 523).

Dwelling upon the last question that determined the purpose of the research it may be said that there is a number of leadership styles used in Japanese society but are not mentioned in the Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model. Japanese respondents pointed out participative, supportive, directive and achievement-oriented leadership styles that are common for them. Moreover, there are several specific leadership styles that are peculiar to Japanese working society; that is protective, after-five, punctual, network, and gender equality leaderships (Fukushige and Spicer 523).

The authors of the case study point out that the results achieved while the research conduction may be easily implemented in practice. Leaders should take into mind information and implement such style of leadership which is going to suit both leaders and followers. Referencing the possibility of further research, it may be stated that research in the sphere of leadership in Japan is rather sparse. There is a great necessity in a research for Japanese leadership models with specific cultural direction. In fact, the research of Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model conducted here gives small and general information. So, further research should be conducted with a large sample in order to receive more detailed information. It was proved that Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model does not fit perfectly cultural significance of Japanese society, so there is a need to search for other models that may be used in Japanese leadership (Fukushige and Spicer 525).


In conclusion, the case study “Leadership preferences in Japan: an exploratory study” by Aya Fukushige and David P. Spicer is a great contribution to Japanese leadership research. The case study managed to answer several questions and prove that different cultures influence leadership in general. The importance of the study is that it showed that Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model may not be fully implemented in Japanese society because of cultural differences. Moreover, other leadership models may be used in Japanese society. Furthermore, it was understood that Japan is a country that has specific leadership styles which may be developed into models. These models may be called rooted as they are peculiar to Japan and were developed in that society. So, Bass and Avalio’s full-range leadership model can be implemented to the Japanese society by the problem needs further research as not all questions are asked and a great deal of research may be conducted further.

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Works Cited

Avolio, Bruce J. and Bernard M. Bass. Developing potential across a full range leadership: cases on transactional and transformational leadership. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002. Print.

Bass, Bernard M. “Does the transactional-transformational paradigm transcend organizational and national boundaries?” American Psychologist 52.2 (1997): 130-139. Print.

Bass, Bernard.M. and Bruce J. Avolio. Full range leadership development: manual for the multifactor leadership questionnaire. Palo Alto: Mindgarden, 1997. Print.

Fukushige, Aya and David P. Spicer. “Leadership preferences in Japan: an exploratory study.” Leadership & Organization Development Journal 28.6 (2007): 508-530. Print.

Hodgetts, Richard M. and Fred Luthans. International Management: Culture, Strategy, and Behavior. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002. Print.

King, Nigel. Template analysis. School of Human & Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, 2006. Web.

Shibata, Hiromichi. “Transformation of the wage and performance appraisal system in a Japanese firm.” International Journal of Human Resource Management 11.2 (2000): 294-313. Print.

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Tejeda, Manuel J., Scandura, Terri A. and Rajnandini Pillai. “The MLQ revisited: psychometric properties and recommendations.” Leadership Quarterly 12 (2001): 31-52. Print.

Thomas, Alan Berkeley. Research Skills for Management Studies. London: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Watanabe, Takashi. “Recent trends in Japanese human resource management: the introduction of a system of individual and independent career choice.” Asian Business and Management 2.1 (2003): 111-141. Print.

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