Understanding indigenous leadership research: Explication and Chinese examples

Xiaojun Zhang, Pingping Fu*, Youmin Xi, Lei Li, Liguo Xu, Chunhui Cao, Guiquan Li, Li Ma, Jing Ge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Integrating the constructivist and positivist research traditions, we propose a three-step methodological framework and use a study of Chinese indigenous leadership practices as an example to illustrate how to utilize the framework to study indigenous leadership practices. We argue that indigenous leadership research is an ideal way to examine and interpret leadership practices in a specific social context because not all leadership practices are captured in dominant Western perspectives that utilize Western-built instruments, which often fail to account for perspectives and practices of leadership in non-Western contexts. Finally, we discuss implications of the proposed methodology on leadership research and offer suggestions on how to deal with challenges when conducting indigenous leadership research in various cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1079
Number of pages17
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Constructivism
  • Indigenous leadership research
  • Methodology
  • Positivism

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