Dale Pfeifer

Dale Marie Pfeifer

Title of MBS Research:

Leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand: Perceptions of Maori and Pakeha Leaders


A/Prof Elspeth Tilley and Professor Frank Sligo

Description of Research Topic:

Exploring the leadership of New Zealand’s diverse cultural groups is of great importance in providing effective leadership. New Zealand’s population is diverse and rapidly changing (Statistics New Zealand, 2004b), resulting in leader-follower relationships increasingly being enacted in the cross-cultural context. As research suggests, cultural variations of leadership exist (Brodbeck et al., 2000; House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004), and inappropriate leadership could stifle the leadership process (Lord & Maher, 1993), it may be especially important to recognise cultural difference in leadership. Well-respected leadership theorists suggest that leadership behaviour is both culturally similar and different (Brodbeck et al., 2000; House et al., 2004), with distinct prototypes of leadership existing in each culture. Followers will only be influenced by leaders’ behaviour which they recognise from that prototype (Lord & Maher, 1993). To be effective, leaders’ behaviour must match followers’ culturally contingent leadership expectation (Popper & Druyan, 2001). New Zealand research supports this theory, confirming the existence of culturally unique leadership behaviour domestically (Ah Chong & Thomas, 1997; Love, 1991a). If the leadership expectations of New Zealand’s diverse cultural groups are not recognised, the result will be ineffective leadership for significant groups. This study investigates perceptions of outstanding Maori and Pakeha leaders by culturally similar followers. In doing so, it examines the unique Maori and Pakeha leadership prototypes, exploring their similarities and differences. In addition, it considers ways in which this course of research could impact on effective leadership in New Zealand. A multi-method approach was taken by this study in exploring perceived Maori and Pakeha leadership. The GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) survey was employed as this study’s quantitative component. The GLOBE is currently cross-cultural leadership’s fore-running research programme, investigating culture’s impact on leadership processes in 62 cultures, with the aim of developing a truly cross-cultural leadership theory.

Close iwi consultation with Te Atiawa and Maori academics was employed as this study’s qualitative component. This study’s findings suggest similarities and differences in how Maori and Pakeha followers perceived the outstanding leadership behaviour of culturally similar leaders. Broadly, they suggest that outstanding Maori leaders were perceived as exhibiting a greater degree of humane-orientated and self-protective behaviour. In some instances, outstanding Maori leaders were also perceived as exhibiting a greater degree of charismatic/value-based and team-orientated behaviour, although in some cases this was perceived as similar for outstanding Maori and Pakeha leaders. Participative and autonomous leadership behaviour was perceived as making a similar contribution to outstanding Maori and Pakeha leadership. This study’s findings support previous research which suggests culturally unique leadership prototypes. It offers insight into Maori leadership (as perceived by Maori followers) and provides a rough sketch-map of homogeneous and heterogeneous aspects of Maori and Pakeha leaders’ perceived behaviour.

MBS Research Keywords:

Leadership, Maori, Pakeha, New Zealand, culture, cross-cultural research, GLOBE study

MBS Candidacy(Year completed):


Previous Degrees:

Post graduate diploma - Communication Management; BA (Business Psychology)


Book Chapter: Pfeifer, D. M., Love, M. and Jackson, B. (2007). Indigenous leadership at the cross-roads: The Hui Taumata as a case study of allophilia. In N.S. Huber & M. Harvey (Eds.), Leadership at the Crossroads. College Park: ILA.
Journal publication:Pfeifer, D. M. and Love, M. (2006). Leading diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand: Mainstream and indigenous cross-cultural leadership considerations. International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Altona: Common Ground.

Pfeifer, D.M. and Love, M. (2004). Leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand: A cross-cultural study. Prism, 2, at http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/issue_2.html.

Pfeifer, D.M., Jackson, B. and Love, M. (2008, November). Indigenous Intergroup Leadership: How the Hui Taumata Brought Maori Together in a Globalized World. Paper presented at the International Leadership Association Conference, Los Angles.

Pfeifer, D.M., Jackson, B. and Love, M. (2006, November). Inter-group leadership: The case of the Indigenous
Maori. Topic Statement presented at the Inter-group Leadership Conference, Harvard University. 

Pfeifer, D. M., Jackson, B.  and Love, M.(2007, August). Leadership & Social Entrepreneurship in Indigenous Societies in Aotearoa New Zealand. Paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Philadelphia. 

Pfeifer, D. M., Jackson, B. and Love, M. (2006, August). Exploring intra-national cultural context: The case of Aotearoa New Zealand. Paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Atlanta. 

Pfeifer, D.M. and Love, M. (2005, June). Maori and Pakeha leadership styles: Unpacking the difference and determining the practice. Paper presented at the Young Maori Leaders Conference, Wellington.

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