Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Cultural Values and Expectations of Female Leadership Styles in Non-Profit Organizations: A Study of Rotary Clubs in Taiwan and the United States

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Louisa Ha (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Alfred DeMaris (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Srinivas Melkote (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Canchu Lin (Committee Member)


The present cross-cultural study applies leadership frameworks developed by Bass and Avolio and modifies the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede to explore and compare the relationships between cultural values and corresponding expectations of female leadership styles in a non-profit organization in Taiwan and the United States of America. In total, 550 Rotarians in Taiwan and another 550 Rotarians in the United States were invited to complete a survey so as to reveal the relationships between Rotarians' cultural values and their expected female leadership styles. In addition, for a deeper and insightful understanding of the female leadership styles in non-profit settings, the method of semi-structured interview is used to raise participants' as well as the researcher's consciousness of and critical reflections upon social practices regarding female leadership. The research results are five-fold: First, Rotarians in Taiwan have higher scores in all of the four cultural dimensions of collectivism, masculinity, customs, and long-term relationships than Rotarians in the United States. Second, among the three major leadership styles, Rotarians in both countries expect female leaders to display transformational leadership. However, laissez-faire leadership style can be better explained by the variables of cultural values and country than demographic factors. Third, the emerged seven qualities in the female leaders in Rotary Clubs in both countries correspond with the characteristics of transformational leadership style. Fourth, the interview data indicate a common use of obliging and integrating conflict management strategies among the female leaders in both countries. Finally, this research also manifests that, to successfully confront gender discrimination and break the glass ceiling, female leaders oftentimes need to be more progressive and active and sometimes make necessary compromises of their female qualities.

The results of this study also reveal that culture is not the only factor to account for the expected female leadership styles. The future study of leadership concepts and styles should include more variables such as organizational culture, political system, language, and feminine or masculine characteristics. To ensure the validity of research findings, this study triangulates surveys and semi-structured interviews and injects breadth and depth in describing the relationship between cultural values and female leadership styles revealing the cultural perceptions of Rotarians in both Taiwan and the United States. The results of the study build an understanding of cultural values and expected female leadership styles in non-profit organizations while also contributing to the knowledge of organizational communication and cross-cultural leadership.