Inter-organizational relationship strategies and management styles in SMEs: The US-China-Russia study


Inter-organizational relationship strategies and management styles in SMEs: The US-China-Russia study, by Andrei Mikhailitchenko, William J. Lundstrom,Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 2006. Vol. 27 Iss: 6, pp.428 – 448


Purpose – The paper seeks to investigate and conceptualize differences in managerial styles and inter-organizational relationship (IOR) strategies of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the international environment, and make managerial implications useful for business practitioners and educators.

Design/methodology/approach – The study applies comparative management research methodology. The management style dimensions analyzed in the paper are supervision, decision making, information-sharing styles, and paternalistic orientation. The types of IOR strategies considered are conjugate, confederate, agglomeratic, and organic. Data were collected through surveying managers of entrepreneurial firms from the USA, China, and Russia, operating in the same industry. Factor analysis was applied for scale validation, and regression models were used for hypotheses testing.

Findings – The relationship between managerial styles and types of IOR strategies pursued by SMEs was documented. The cross-cultural differences in terms of SMEs’ orientation towards different types of IOR were also revealed.

Practical implications – The study indicated that it is possible to predict prevailing IOR strategies based on cultural differences in a systematic way. Because of SMEs’ rapid globalization, the study findings contribute to the efforts of achieving better correspondence between IOR-building strategies of small businesses in different countries. Educational and training programs preparing international SME managers to distinguish, substantiate and deal with the revealed cross-cultural IOR differences will be helpful for achieving this goal.

Originality/value – The major value of the study is that it provides insight into IORs from the small business perspective in a cross-cultural setting.

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