Gender and Race Differences in Leader Behaviour Preferences in South Africa
Purpose of this paper
This research was undertaken to investigate the differences in preferred managerial leadership behaviour among genders and racial groups in South Africa.
Data were collected from part time MBA students in South Africa, and subjects’ preferences for explicit leader behaviour was assessed by the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire XII, with samples of Asian2, Black, Coloured3, and White South Africans further categorized by gender.
Coloured sample subjects were most dissimilar from the other samples as to preferred leader behaviours. The most similar grouping was Black Males with White Males and Females.
Different results were obtained than predicted by past studies comparing only Black and White subjects. Studies comparing only those two racial groups could yield misleading interpretations of the actual managerial leader race and gender dynamics in South Africa. Due to the small samples obtained for Coloureds and Asian women, a follow-up study is underway to increase these sample sizes.
Implications of this study for practice are that programmes of managerial leadership development and practice need to consider that the race and gender dynamics in South Africa extend beyond the majority Blacks and Whites, and need to be more inclusive of all groups.
Value of the paper
The results tend to contradict the interpretations of past studies of management and leadership that have indicated significant differences between the behaviours of Blacks and Whites in the business environment. These two groups were found to be most similar in preferences.
1 Dr. Hugh Poynor and Dr. Lee Poynor, of The University of Texas at Austin (retired), provided valuable advice on the data analysis for this paper.
2 Asian (South African): Of or belonging to a population grouping made up of persons generally of Indian descent, especially as distinguished during apartheid from Blacks, Coloureds, and Whites.
3 Coloured (South African): Of or belonging to a population grouping made up of persons of mixed racial descent or of certain other nonwhites descent, especially as distinguished during apartheid from Blacks, Asians, and whites.