Managerial perceptions of leadership and management in an African public service organization

Date01 December 1996
AuthorMerrick L. Jones,Peter Blunt,Keshav C. Sharma
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-162X(199612)16:5<455::AID-PAD897>3.0.CO;2-Z
Published date01 December 1996
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND DEVELOPMENT, VOL.
16,455467
(1996)
Managerial perceptions of leadership and management in an
African
public
service organization
MERRICK
L.
JONES
Northern Territory University, Australia
PETER BLUNT
Northern Territory University, Australia
KESHAV C. SHARMA
University
of
Botswana, Botswana
SUMMARY
This article describes and analyses data on perceptions of leadership and management,
generated by a study of managerial behaviour, organizational functioning and performance in
the Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing
(MLGLH)
in Botswana. The study
was commissioned by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). The findings
indicate that the managers in the investigation did not generally recognize the distinction
between organizational leadership and management that
is
postulated in the predominant
current western view. The perceived ideal leader who emerges from the investigation is kindly
and supportive and provides clear directions; the western ideal of the ‘corporate hero’ did not
emerge from the findings. Further, the Tswana managers emphasize the reaction of the boss as
a major factor in judging their own performance. This finding of the acceptance of hierarchical
authority and accompanying dependency supports evidence from the few empirical studies
undertaken previously in Africa, and has implications for the current plan to implant elements
of the ‘Singaporean model’ in Botswana.
BACKGROUND
TO
THE
STUDY
During the mid-
1980s
the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) set in
motion
a
process of study and analysis to provide
a
better understanding of the public
administration sector, principally in the African context. The aim was to improve Sida’s
approach to its provision
of
support for the development and improvement
of
public
administration (see ‘Making Government Work‘, Sida,
1991).
It became evident that
a
number
of
aspects ofpublic administration in
Africa
were little
researched. The cultural and organizational dimensions were evidently important factors
in relation to the improvement and reform of the public sector. In particular, the studies
indicated that
a
key to successful development and reform was the adoption of measures
rooted in the specific organizational environment concerned. It became clear that an
understanding of such factors was of fundamental importance.
Dr Jones and Professor Blunt are in the Faculty of Business, Northern Territory University, Darwin,
NT
909,
Australia, and Professor Sharma is at the University
of
Botswana, Private Bag
0022,
Gaborone,
Botswana.
CCC
027 1-2075/96/050455-13
0
1996
by John Wiley
&
Sons,
Ltd.

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