Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Carol Stoak Saunders, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Troy A. Montgomery, D.B.A

Committee Member

Jung C. Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gaole Chen, Ph.D.


Cross-cultural management, Global, Immigration, Multicultural, Workforce diversity


Cultural identity and resource availability aspects in traditional leadership development literature remain understudied, especially among minority populations like Asian immigrants.

This study explores the leadership journeys of 24 United States immigrants from China, India and the Philippines using a phenomenological approach, primarily with semi-structured interviews. Experiences of 18 additional immigrant leaders published in popular media were also analyzed.

Data from the study reveals that Asian migrants’ roads to leadership in U.S. organizations are heterogeneous and characterized by either linear or nonlinear, overlapping phases of leader development where migrant leaders overcome assimilation challenges and leverage their unique, individual human capital to intersect with organizational level capital in order to enhance their chances of success. Findings suggestive of a relationship between leveraged or suppressed cultural traits and leadership styles are also explored.

Drawing from theories rooted in behavioral economics and psychology, the study demonstrates that Asian leader pathways reflect an adaptation process that appears to interact in complex ways with individual, organizational, and societal resources available to them. Theoretical and practical implications are drawn and future research directions are recommended.