Henley Africa and CLADEA to lead inaugural research project

Henley Business School Africa has been selected by the Latin American Council of Management Schools (CLADEA) to lead the inaugural research project on the impact of situational leadership in times of crisis on project outcome in an emerging market context.

The project will involve five researchers from Henley Africa: Mr Malcolm Ferguson, Dr Melani Prinsloo, and Ms Tshidi Machaba, while Professor Pedro Ribeiro, associated professor at University of Minho in Portugal’s Department of Information Systems, will be the European partner.

The heart of the project, says Henley Africa’s head of research Professor Danie Petzer, is to contribute to high-quality global thought leadership in project management from an African and Latin American perspective.

Henley Africa became the first business school on the continent to be affiliated to CLADEA when it joined the council during lockdown in July 2020. Established more than 50 years ago, CLADEA has 239 affiliates across 30 countries on five continents.

As a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) bloc, South Africa shares many similarities with Brazil, while the same is true, says Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley, of Africa and Latin America. This research project is proof of this and of the importance of collaboration in an ever changing, always under stress world.

“We said when we first joined the council that there was much that we could contribute to CLADEA’s members in terms of our scholarship through our unique research unit, Henley AIR (African Insight and Research). We operate from a country that is the richest in a continent with the youngest population in the world, yet is beset by legacy problems that manifest themselves today in the highest Gini co-efficient.

“South Africa’s state of disaster that was proclaimed in March 2020 and the lockdown that ensued, one of the toughest in the world, provide a fantastic benchmark for exploring and scoping situational leadership under one of the most trying and testing real-life situations imaginable.

“Almost overnight companies had to transition from working face-to-face to working virtually from remote sites. Those who did work in traditional workplaces had to do so under the strictest COVID-19 protocols, all of which contributed to an incredibly high-pressured situation with little room for error.”

There was much that could be learnt from the South African experience in particular that could be used to help managers prepare themselves for future disruption on the scale of a COVID-19 lockdown.

“But it also goes far beyond that,” says Foster-Pedley, “there are situations unique to Africa and Latin America, informed by socio-economic and cultural considerations on the ground that will be of huge importance to a rapidly changing, increasingly multi-cultural world, which is why Henley Africa is so excited to be part of this ground breaking research project.”

The literature review for the project is currently underway says Prof Petzer, the interview guide has been finalised and ethical clearance issued by the university’s ethics committee.

“We are excited about this project, not just because of the subject matter,” he says, but because of the fact that we are working with an academic like Professor Ribeiro. I think we are all going to learn a great deal from this experience and that will indeed become a template for future research projects.”

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