Intercultural Leadership: Variations in Chinese Canadian Perspectives of Career Mobility into Senior Leadership Roles

  • Debora Linehan


This research described in this chapter delves into the social issue of equity representation of visible minorities, specifically Chinese Canadians, in leadership roles. The author describes her qualitative study which investigated the career experiences and perspectives of Chinese Canadians working in large financial institutions in Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. This research goes beyond the paradigm of employment equity to explore bicultural identity within an organizational context and to critically investigate power structures that determine senior leadership roles. The study relied on a blended methodology of social scientific quantitative measures and phenomenography. It also is built around an interdisciplinary framework that is comprised of labor studies, race and cultural studies, organizational behavior, economics, and leadership studies. The findings suggest that, within this large financial institution, bicultural leaders are not ascending to senior leadership roles due to unintended cultural biases in organizational practices and norms. They further suggest that bicultural leaders within this organization contribute valuable skills, attributes, and leadership practices that are unrecognized in the current organizational culture. The research affirmed that Chinese Canadian employees contribute important skills, intercultural competence, and perspectives that enhance the practice of leadership, but that their leadership potential may not be fully recognized due to unintended organizational bias. The phenomenographic study also revealed career conceptions of acculturation for Chinese Canadians within this financial institution. The discussion suggests that this financial organization needs to adapt to the changing workforce demographics and create an inclusive organizational culture that engages the talents of bicultural leaders.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debora Linehan
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Roads UniversityVictoriaCanada

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