African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4156

Full Length Research Paper

Leadership styles in organizations during harsh economic environments

Judith Mwenje*
  • Judith Mwenje*
  • Department of Business Management, National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar
Eddie Mwenje
  • Eddie Mwenje
  • Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 30 August 2016
  •  Accepted: 02 November 2016
  •  Published: 28 January 2017


This study seeks to add to the knowledge gap on leadership styles in organizations under harsh economic environments by assessing the leadership styles of senior managers and chief executive officers in the private and public sectors and to correlate the organizational performance to the styles.  A survey research design using self-administered questionnaires was used in this study.  Questionnaires (150) were sent out to the major companies throughout Zimbabwe targeting senior managers and chief executive officers.  Convenient sampling and snowball sampling were used to identify the organizations used in the study. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0 and MINITAB statistical package were used for analyzing data. Transactional leadership style was the dominant style in both the private and public sectors in the time of economic uncertainty.  Contrary to widely held views, the private sector managers excelled on transactional leadership style compared to their counter parts in the public sector. The results suggest that during hard times or in economic crisis, leadership styles may change to suit the environment. In particular, transactional leadership style becomes a dominant style if organizations are to succeed in the maintenance of high standards of performance and retention of skills. In times of crisis, both transformational and transactional leadership styles are important for the survival of organizations. Although leadership styles have been studied in different organizations, information on studies in the public sector has lagged behind.  The study described in the study is the first to consider leadership styles in the two sectors under harsh economic conditions (highest recorded inflation).  As such, this study gives insight to managers and chief executive officers on how to keep performance high.

Key words:  Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, public sector, harsh economic conditions