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The past fifty years of international business research has seen an
extraordinary evolution in our awareness and understanding of
cross-cultural management. As consciousness of the challenges and
rewards of managing across national and cultural boundaries has
grown, the nature of the global business context has also evolved. In
this article we provide a quasi-historical review of the field of global
leadership, tracing its initial roots in the fields of international,
comparative, and cross-cultural management. In doing so, we
conceptually map an overall trajectory of the field of global
leadership as well as delineate its current terrain. Our intent is not
to provide a comprehensive treatment of the global leadership field
nor of the international, comparative, and cross-cultural management literatures, which would be beyond the scope ofthis paper and
would require book-length treatments. Rather the emphasis will be
on how a changing context and evolving phenomena brought us to
where we are in the study of global leadership.
Before going further, we offer an additional clarification. From
inception there has been ambiguity and dissent over the terminology that management scholars use when discussing management
outside a purely domestic context. In general, ”international
management” is used as the broadest classification, incorporating
international strategy, international human resources, and all other
aspects of managing internationally and at all levels of analysis.
”Cross-cultural management” has generally referred to accommodating differences in cultural practices when managing outside of
one’s home country and it often takes a comparative perspective. In
this article, we use both of these terms, although when using
”international management” we are most often referring to the
broader field while when using ”Cross-cultural management” we
are mostly referencing a more specific subset of that field.
We next offer an overview of precursors to the advent of global
leadership divided into four eras or ”stages” and review how the
cross-cultural management literature generally approached the
study of leadership in each stage, and discuss how various research
streams from these stages combined to give birth to the field of
global leadership. We then provide an overview of the global
leadership literature, and finally conclude our analysis with a
discussion of its implications for future research and practice.

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