Why women execs thrive in emerging markets

Business Woman

Women may have an easier time climbing the corporate ladder in emerging nations as opposed to developed economies, according to a new research, which showed there is more value placed on skills such as intuition and creativity in the latter.

"We've identified two very different types of business leader in our research. In markets like Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam leaders we call the Modernists are evident - they are open to coaching, value creativity and intuition, and are much more likely to be women - or surrounded by women in senior positions," said Francesca Lagerberg, global leader at UK auditor Grant Thornton, which published the research on Tuesday.

"By contrast leaders in European economies like France, Germany, Spain and the UK are so-called Traditionalists - they are far less likely to use a coach, place less value on creativity and intuition and are less likely to be women," she added.

In BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations 28 percent of senior business leaders are women, compared with 21 percent in G7 countries, according to the firm. The research was drawn from interviews with 3,330 senior executives in businesses across 44 countries.

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The fact that business leaders in these developing countries are more likely to be women is not a coincidence, given they show greater openness to coaching and are also more willing to delegate, said Lagerberg.

At the board level, meanwhile, 26 percent of board members in BRIC countries are women, compared with just 16 percent in the G7 and 19 percent globally.

"There is a wealth of research suggesting that decision-making is affected by the gender balance on boards. As businesses with higher proportions of women in senior management tend to be found in emerging economies, the question is whether this offers them an advantage in the global race for growth," Lagerberg said.

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"Economies in Europe and North America are picking up and business leaders are looking forward to the effect this will have on the growth of their own operations. But longer-term, the danger is that the diversity and openness to modern leadership styles exhibited by Modernist peers could result in better decision-making," she added.

Focus on creativity, intuition

While business leaders across the world agreed integrity, a positive attitude and communication were the attributes most important to good leadership, there was a split when it came to creativity and intuition.

Over 80 percent of business leaders in Southeast Asia and Latin America deemed creativity as an important leadership trait, compared with just 57 percent in the European Union. Meanwhile, 85 percent of Southeast Asian leaders regarded intuition as important compared with just 54 percent in Europe.

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"Business leaders in Asia and Latin America have been able to observe how management techniques in the West have evolved and matured," Lagerberg said

"The research shows however that rather than simply copying and replacing management techniques, they are blending them with their own cultural and management practices to adapt a 'third way' for their local market," she added.

-By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani. Follow her on Twitter @Ansuya_H

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