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Managerial Leadership and Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Wanasika, Isaac
  • Howell, Jon P.
  • Littrell, Romie
  • Dorfman, Peter


This paper examines managerial leadership and its cultural and historical foundations in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The analysis is based on existing literature, a qualitative analysis of African media reports, and quantitative results from the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project. The five SSA countries studied were Nigeria, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa (black sample). Results yielded several common themes that characterize SSA leadership patterns across the region. In particular, a common cultural characteristic, ubuntu, was reflected in high levels of group solidarity, paternalistic leadership, and Humane Oriented leadership. Although the negative legacy of colonial dominance has contributed to a culture of corruption, poverty, tribalism and violence, charismatic leaders frequently invoke indigenous cultural values and means to overcome these problems. Implications for further development of global leadership theories are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Wanasika, Isaac & Howell, Jon P. & Littrell, Romie & Dorfman, Peter, 2011. "Managerial Leadership and Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 234-241, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worbus:v:46:y:2011:i:2:p:234-241

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sanjeev Agarwal, 1993. "Influence of Formalization on Role Stress, Organizational Commitment, and Work Alienation of Salespersons: A Cross-National Comparative Study," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 24(4), pages 715-739, December.
    2. Johnston, Mark W. & Parasuraman, A. & Futrell, Charles M., 1989. "Extending a model of salesperson role perceptions and work-related attitudes: Impact of job tenure," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 269-290, June.
    3. Challagalla, Goutam N. & Shervani, Tasadduq A., 1997. "A measurement model of the dimensions and types of output and behavior control: An empirical test in a salesforce context," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 159-172, July.
    4. Banai, Moshe & Reisel, William D., 2007. "The influence of supportive leadership and job characteristics on work alienation: A six-country investigation," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 463-476, December.
    5. Theodosiou, Marios & Katsikea, Evangelia, 2007. "How management control and job-related characteristics influence the performance of export sales managers," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(12), pages 1261-1271, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bird, Allan & Mendenhall, Mark E., 2016. "From cross-cultural management to global leadership: Evolution and adaptation," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 115-126.
    2. Dorfman, Peter & Javidan, Mansour & Hanges, Paul & Dastmalchian, Ali & House, Robert, 2012. "GLOBE: A twenty year journey into the intriguing world of culture and leadership," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 504-518.


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