Servant Leadership Across Cultures

  • Gary E. Roberts
Reference work entry


Servant leadership is a rapidly growing and influential research and practice domain (Roberts, Christian scripture and human resource management: building a path to servant leadership through faith. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2015). The contemporary focus on servant leadership was given impetus by the work of Robert Greenleaf (Servant leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. Paulist Press, New York, 1977). As the research on servant leadership expands globally, this chapter explores the generalizability of servant leadership across cultures. The first section reviews the conceptual definitions of servant leadership followed by how those attributes are reflected in four of the world’s major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism – a reinforcement of their universality. The second section of the chapter reviews the empirical data by summarizing the results of 104 US and international studies that generated 213 dependent variable measures. The breadth of the favorable influence of servant leadership practices on outcomes is consistent and impressive with 209 of the 213 (98.1%) of the dependent variable effects of servant leadership in the positive direction. Only 1.9% were nonsignificant. Even allowing for publication bias, these are very impressive results. The results are equally impressive when the US and global studies are compared. All 100% of the United Sates and 96.2% of the international studies manifested positive outcomes. Interestingly, all four of the nonsignificant studies were international. There are 25 nations represented with the preponderance of the studies from the United States (41.3%) followed by China (16.5%), Turkey (6.4%), the Netherlands (3.7%), Canada (2.8%), and Iran (2.8). The data clearly reinforces an increasing global scope of research interest in servant leadership and its degree of influence.


Servant leadership Moral leadership Ethical leadership Leadership effectiveness Global leadership Christian leadership 


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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robertson School of GovernmentRegent UniversityVirginia BeachUSA

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