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The Yin and Yang of Leadership Characteristics: Preliminary Insight from a Cross-Ethnic Exploration in Indonesia

Andika Putra Pratama, Anggara Wisesa, Nur Arief Rahmatsyah Putranto, Fransisca Budyanto Widjaja, Emilia Fitriana Dewi


Abstract. Western influenced theories of leadership tend to be linear and Universalist in the way leadership characteristics are portrayed. That is, certain leadership characteristics are good while others are bad and these presumably are applicable across contexts. Based on a cross-ethic exploration of leadership characteristics in an Indonesian context (involving Javanese, Sundanese, and Chinese Indonesian), we find an argument for a more contextual form of leadership characteristics. With each ethnic group having its own leadership idea or what we call as leadership myth, the same leadership myth may be perceived as desirable or undesirable depending on the behavioral details as understood by the perceivers. Here, the “Yin and Yang” principle refers not to a balanced set of characteristics but more to a balanced view of such characteristics, which are embedded not in the personal self but in the view of the others. The analytical method employed in this research affords us to understand this possibility. We also highlight the way the argument emerges as a situated and contextual form of theory building.

Keywords: Cross-Ethnic Exploration; Leadership; Theory Building; Yin-and-Yang; Abductive Approach


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