Leadership Experiences of Bicultural Business Leaders: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

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Using the lens of interpretative phenomenological analysis, this study explored the leadership experiences of bicultural business leaders in the Philippines. Semistructured interviews were conducted among 16 leaders in family-owned, small and medium-sized enterprises in the Philippines who are ethnically Chinese and have Filipino nationality. Findings focused on salient expressions of biculturalism in leadership, bicultural leadership challenges, and advantages. Most of the participants experienced fluidity in their expressions of Filipino and Chinese identities and how these manifest in the workplace. Challenges shared pertain to generational factors as participants assumed leadership roles through kinship, as well as relational challenges reflective of cultural nuances. The leaders view their being bicultural as having the “best of both worlds” as they have greater access to cultural information and a more holistic view of which values and norms to use in their leadership roles and in various social interactions. Fluency in communicating in Chinese and Filipino was perceived to enable effective interactions and facilitate trust building with their customers, employees, and suppliers. Implications focused on the need to consider biculturalism in leadership development programmes in educational institutions and organizations, especially with increasing bi/multiculturalism in workplaces.