SUPERVISOR         Dr xx

Leadership models in management consulting companies in Europe & Middle Est – success or failure

Project submitted in partial fulfilment

of the requirements of the

Master of Business Administration

of the

University of Cumbria


Key words: leadership, management, KPI


Business School

Leadership models in management consulting companies in Europe & Middle Est -success or failure


Leadership is seen as determining factor in success or failure of an organization, however, its practices vary among different types of industry.

Various leadership styles are used in the same company, depending on geographical areas, depending the market influencers, local culture, final customers and the employees. Leadership and strategic management have been under study  in the last century, therefore this dissertation will  aim to  focus on identification of leadership styles applied in a specific industry sector, management consulting & project management services and the direct effect on growth or downsize of the business, success or failure and aim to find recommendation of the management style mix that would potentially lead to success instead of failure.

This thesis analyses the extent to which the managers are applying a clear management methodology, identify the best practices or lack of them and aim to identify the differences in management style used in the same company but different geographical areas. As a direct result of investigation, thesis aims to analyses the business results (customers satisfaction resulting in positive reputation for company, expansion in new geographical areas, growth in turnover or loss of business, reliability and customers).

Accordingly, the study examines the similarities and differences, add the economic context (which will be different depending on the geographical area) and as final step aim to explain why the leadership style can be successful in Middle East (UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and a failure in other regions as Europe or Asia.

AIM – to identify in a specific industry service area (management consulting & project management) the current leadership methods used by managers to grow and the lead the businesses

This project will investigate the awareness of managers in applying effective leadership models in running strategically the business

It will analyses the extent to which theoretical practices are followed and attempt to explain any differences found

If similarities are found, the study aim to identify the influence of regional/ cultural factors that can lead to different results

Study aim to recommend a better leadership mix for the chosen

Dissertation to be mainly concerned with management consultancy and project management sector. If insufficient data will be obtained, study will expand to fields where statistical data are currently published.


The project will use the various teams’ managers performance and leadership style, alignment in the company and to which extent the leadership methods are used, will identify the applied KPI for various departments in the company and compare the results. Study will identify potential applicability of new mix and investigate the different benefits.


                 What facts or information I need to gather?  How will I access these?

A thorough examination of literature pertaining to leadership styles will be carried out and identify the limited number of models applied to the selected industry sector.

Literature review:

There were many attempts to define leadership in last centuries and decades. As per Stogdill (1974), “there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept”. It is interesting to note that the definitions given to leadership increased from 650 definitions at the end of last century to almost 1400 definitions in 2014.( statement issued by Kelerman into an interview to Volkmann, 2012).
In his article “What is Leadership”, published by Albert  Silva in  Journal of Business Studies Quarterly; Antioch Vol. 8, Is. 1,  (Sep 2016) an effort is made to develop a definition that may satisfy different viewpoints and provide a better base for the study of leadership.
The first attempt to define  leadership is dated 2500 years back and was formulated by Confucius, Plato  add that a ” leader would be wise”( Takala, 1998) and Machiavelli complete with ” leader  should have good virtues and should be intelligent to have the support of the people  (Machiavelli, 1513/1992).
Stogdill (1957) defined leadership as ” the individual behavior to guide a group to achieve the common target”. He also extended the definition to “goal setting and goal achievement”.
Another definition given by Lee and Chuang (2009) is “the excellent leader not only inspires subordinate`s potential to enhance efficiency but also meets their requirements in the process of achieving organizational goals”.

In his book ” What managers do”, John Kotter has an interesting view on different attributes of leaders that are often confused with managers. ” People say ‘leadership” but describe “management”, talk only about commanding style.” He is observing that ” leadership is different from management, and the primary force behind successful change…is the former not the later”. Without enough leadership, the probability of mistakes increases greatly, and probability of success decreases accordingly. “In ‘Cases of leadership” Laura Guerro and W. Glenn Rowe identify  many components of leadership, as  “leadership is a process, involve influencing others, happens in a context of a group, involves good attainment and goals are shared by leaders with their followers” which gives us a better picture of the differences between leadership and management.

Three are identified 3 types of leadership: situational, transactional and transformational leadership.

Situational leadership– as defined by Graeff,1997; Grint,2011) requires a rational understanding of the situation and an appropriate response, rather than a charismatic leader. Task-oriented leaders define the roles for followers, give definite instructions, create organizational patterns, and establish formal communication channels (Bass, 2008; Hersey & Blanchard, 1969; 1979; 1996; 1980; 1981). Instead, relation-oriented leaders practice concern for others, attempt to reduce emotional conflicts, seek harmonious relations, and regulate equal participation (Bass, 2008; Hersey & Blanchard, 1969;1979; 1996; 1980; 1981; Shin, Heath, & Lee, 2011).Therefore SLT define a manager as task or people oriented.

Criticism of situational leadership-Nicholls (1985) identify 3 weak points referring to consistency, continuity and conformity. Bass (2008), Glyn & DeJordy (2010)- states that no particular leadership style was universally effective.

Transactional leadership focuses on changes that occur between leaders and followers (Bass 1985,1990, 2000, 2008, Burns 1978). Transactional leadership allows leaders to accomplish their performance objectives, motivate followers to achieve goals, avoid risks, and improve organizations efficiency (Sadeghi& Pihie,2012) and allows followers to fulfill their performance objectives on clear organizational objectives.

Criticism of Transactional leadership- Burns (1978), conclude that these kinds of relationship are temporary and lead to resentments between participants. Also, other scholars consider that it doesn`t take into consideration situational and contextual factors related to challenges into an organization. (Beyes,199; Yukl,1999; Yukl &Mahsud,2010).

Transformational leadership is defined by Burns (1978) as “one who raises the follower’s level of consciousness about the importance and value of desired outcomes. The transformational leader convinces the followers to put the organizational interests first while moving the follower need from level of safety and security to level needs for achievement and self-actualization (Bass, 2008, p 619). A Transformational leader inspire the followers and impress through their behavior.

The criticism of Transformational Leadership was done by (Beyes, 1999; Hunt 1999; Yukl 1999,2011).

The criticism of Transformational leadership brought by Burns (1978) argued that Transformational Leadership practices lead followers to short term relationship of exchange with their leader and have a little evidence on influence on groups, teams or organizations.

These are not the only classifications of leadership. Leadership can be divided in 2 categories- directive and participative.

Directive leadership is defined as” leader behaviors that seek team members’ compliance with directions about how to accomplish a problem-solving task (Bass, 1990; Bass, Valenzi, Farrow, & Solomon, 1975).Characteristics of a directive style are: setting clear directions (Somech, 2006), managing interactions of team members (e.g., Korsgaard, Schweiger, & Sapienza, 1995; Sagie, 1996),and planning the team activity.(Griffin, 1980; Keller, 2006).

Participative leadership is defined as “sharing of problem solving by consulting with team members before making a decision (Bass, 1990; Bass et al., 1975). The main characteristics of the leader using this style are: he lets the team member to decide how they want to work. The leaders reserve the role of providing guidance or consultation on working style and is less controlling. (Wageman, 2001, Amabile, Schatzel, Moneta, & Kramer, 2004).

All those definitions are not telling us if the leadership style is good or bad. In their book “The 5 practices of exemplary leadership”, James M. OKuzes & Barry z. Posner try to define the best practices:

“Model the way-High performance leadership starts with aligning values with actions-that builds credibility. “Inspire a shared vision. Only then can we become the inclusive leaders our organizations need to respond to the challenges of our fast-changing world (Hanif Qadir-CEO, Active Change Foundation).” Challenge the process-exemplary leaders are pioneers at taking the initiative in searching the innovative ways to improve their own work, that their teams and their organizations” (…)” Enable others to act-empowering leaders make sure when they win everybody win. They share power and information the spotlight for the job well done (….).” Encourage the heart- exemplary leaders know that getting extraordinary things done in organizations is hard work, and yet they rise to the call to inspire others with courage and hope”.

Leadership can have good or bad results and there is a high connection between the leadership style and organizational performance. As per Avolio (1999) Lado, Boyd and Wright (1992), Rowe, (2001)” Understanding the effects of leadership on performance is important because leadership is viewed by some researchers as one of the key driving forces for improving a firm’s performance. Effective leadership is seen as a potent source of management development and sustained competitive advantage for organizational performance improvement. Mehra, Smith, Dixon and Robertson (2006) states that “organizations are looking to efficient ways to enable them outperform others and a longstanding approach is to focus on the effects of leadership. Team leaders are believed to play a pivotal role in shaping collective norms, helping teams cope with their environments, and coordinating collective action”. There are scholars that were focusing to identify the missing links between leadership and organizations performance that concluded “That despite a hypothesized leadership-performance relationship suggested by some researchers, current findings are inconclusive and difficult to interpret” (Fenwick and Gayle 2008).

To what refers the organizational performance? “Organizational performance refers to ability of an enterprise to achieve such objectives as high profit, quality product, large market share, good financial results, and survival at pre-determined time using relevant strategy for action” (Koontz and Donnell, 1999). Organizational performance can also be used to analyze the profitability, market share and product quality compared with other companies in the same field. Organization performance is a measure of team members efficiency using as reference realized revenue, profit, growth and development of the enterprise.

How all those concepts about leadership are applied in Europe and Middle East? Which are the differences, and which are the factors that will influence the organizational performance based on different leadership styles and cultural differences?

In European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology in article “National Culture and Leadership Profiles in Europe: Some Results from the GLOBE Study” there is a discussion about clusters identified in Europe based on culture. (Hofstede, 1991; Ronen & Shenkar, 1985)-states that different culture groups may understand differently what leadership means. Globe project had selected 21 European countries to discuss about the leadership prototypes and it was identified that there are 2 main clusters North- Western European and South Eastern – European cluster. It is concluded /discussed that the leadership prototypes in these clusters mirror to a certain extent the differences in culture. Based on researches it was impossible to identify a single European management style or culture and Europe is different from other parts of the world.

In “An introduction to the special issue on leadership and culture in the Middle East, Ali Kabasakal, H., & Dastmalchian, A. (2001, Applied Psychology: An International Review, 50(4), 479-488) the authors use the data part of GLOBE project- scale study of leadership in 61 countries( Robert House, Mansour Javidan, Peter Dorfman).Ikhlas A. Abdalla and Moudi A. to extract information about Kuwait, Iran, Qatar& Turkey to analyses leadership in Arab countries.

Al-Hamoud wrote the second paper entitled “Exploring the Implicit Leadership Theory in the Arabian Gulf States”-where he discuss similarities and differences between Kuwait and Qatar in terms of desirable leader attributes.

The third article written by Ali Dastmalchian, Mansour Javidan, and Kamran Alam is entitled “Effective Leadership and Culture in Iran: An Empirical Study ‘‘. The study reports a comprehensive account of Iranian societal culture and compare Iranian findings with other nations. Using the GLOBE leadership instrument, Dastmalchian, Javidan, and Alam develop seven dimensions of effective leadership that reflect the cultural values of Iranian society.

The fourth manuscript ”Society, Organizations and Leadership in Turkey’‘,focuses on societal and organizational culture and effective leadership characteristics in Turkey(Selda Fikret PasÎa, Hayat Kabasakal, and Muzaffer Bodur ).They have used qualitative data collected in Turkey for the GLOBE project and quantitative data obtained in an independent research project. The authors link the relationship between observed leadership behaviors and organizational culture in Turkish organizations. Beside this they discuss the perceptions of Turkish managers regarding outstanding leader attributes.

Ronen & Shenkar, 1985)- concludes that out of the Globe study nine geographic clusters have been segregated: Anglo, Germanic, Nordic, Latin European, Latin American, Near East, Far East, Arabic, and Independents. Based on Hofstede’s (1980).

Near East category- Iran and Turkey, Greece and the former Yugoslavia

Arab countries-Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.

All four societies that are analyzed in this Special Issue are predominantly Muslim. Thus, it would be expected that Islam would have an impact on at least some cultural dimensions as well as implicit leadership characteristics that are perceived to be effective.


An analysis of the results of current applied leadership management models for selected sector will be performed, positive results and negative results will be segregated and identify the gaps as well as improvement opportunities. It is in the scope of dissertation to identify the results of the same leadership model applied in different divisions (regions) and determine the external/internal factors that influence the dynamic outcomes.

To reach the objective of the study the following information will be gathered:

Current thinking on leadership methods utility – current textbooks and recent journal articles

Information on actual practices in the industry (limited to KSA, UAE, Balkan Region)

Methodology to be developed, but likely to include questionnaire or interviews with both Management team and Departmental Managers.

In case the responses will be limited and insufficient for an analysis, data will be gathered from published researches that relates to chosen sector and public statistics.

Determination of a limited number of KPIs that will be representative & commonly used in the sector, that will sustain the performance analysis, the rationality of choices

Opinions on other available strategies and not used (limitations, lack of knowledge)

Identify potential benefits determined by implementation of other metrics.


The research will be carried out in two stages: first the managers will be sent a questionnaire via email or Linked-in (as a resource for questionnaires will be used Survey monkey and questionnaire model will be adjusted to the purpose of research) and second, where possible, a limited number of interviews will be done via phone with managers having an experience of 20-30 years in the field. The research will be rather qualitative than quantitative.

Methodology will be determined at a later stage for qualitative research. Data validity will be discussed and limitations of the process of obtaining data.

Collected data will be then structured and analyzed in comparative tables per geographical areas. The results will be analyzed with the aim to identify the essential factors that lead to success or failure of the company in the past 5 years.

Possible opportunities to conduct interviews with selected managers in selected countries

Analysis likely to be limited to several interviews and will be based more on qualitative research than large statistical research.

In case insufficient responses, analysis will be performed based on published statistical data.


Contribution of the research will be a critical analysis of the gaps / or lack of real leadership methods in place in the chosen industry area with the aim to recommend the mix of leadership style and adjustment to regional context that would lead to business growth, expansion to new regions and retain valuable employees.




This proposal is strongly related to:


Leadership, Management, effects, performance.


Name any tutor(s) you think might be appropriate to supervise your dissertation.