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Comparing Chinese Leadership and Zimbabwean Leadership Styles

Info: 9457 words (38 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: PoliticsLeadership


There is a multitude of problems the effect the effective and efficient running of an organization by virtue of it being an organization. As long a history as organizations have, so too is the history of organizational problems.  Whilst some problems may be external in nature these are beyond the Organization’s control and, internal factors may play the most significant role in the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization itself. No issue affects the smooth running of an organization more than leadership styles utilized in the organization. Leadership is a topic that has been studied extensively and its study can be dated as far back as Plato, Sun Tzu, and Machiavelli. Today, leadership is still a topic that has not yet been fully exhausted. The chief questions that researchers have strived to answer are; what makes a leader a leader and what does a leader do?  Researchers have found that there are numerous types of leadership styles and have attempted to formulate theories to explain this leadership style.

A Chinese Zimbabwean Joint Venture Company is a unique situation where due to a number of factors which will be discussed later, the prevailing leadership style normally utilized in a wholly owned Zimbabwean company cannot be applied and where the Chinese Leadership style is also unsuitable. It is important to note that leadership styles may also vary as a result of the context (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). This context may clash with or complement the leader’s style, efforts, and personality. Given the little literature found on the context under which most leadership styles occur we found it important to discuss the leadership context specific to the Zimbabwean situation.  This paper seeks to look at what leadership style emerges in such a situation as well as the actual context under which these styles occur.

Firstly, we will take a look at the background of the study.


China is located in Asia and it the largest country in the world. In 2016, China had a population of 1.38 billion people making it the most populated country in the world (Statista, 2016). Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The current population of Zimbabwe is estimated to be 16.5 million (World Population Review, 2018). Formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe was colonized by the British and Zimbabwe remained a British colony for almost a century, attained independence in 1980 (The Stockton Post Colonial Studies Project, 2018). Today, as a result of colonization, the legal, political and economic structures in Zimbabwe today are based on British systems and so too are the business management practices (Cultural Atlas, 2018).

On the other hand China has a long, complex history, which is difficult to summarize the society without generalizing the culture (Tian, 2007). China was secluded and conservative country until 1978 when the nation began to embrace international involvement and openness which heralded the beginning of Chinese Economic Reform (Chinese Culture, 2018). The guiding philosophy in China is Confucianism that emphasizes the importance of healthy human interactions and this may explain why China is a highly collectivist society (Tian, 2007).  Chinese society therefore readily accepts inequality because it maintains harmonious, stable relations between individuals. Confucianism promotes the idea that relationships between people are unequal and that everyone should have defined hierarchical roles thus there is a strong emphasis on inter-dependence and harmony. The Confucianism principle of ‘Li’ condenses social cohesiveness’ and the Chinese sense of duty (Chinese Culture, 2018). Chinese culture has undergone a huge intense transformation over the past 50 years and continues to adapt rapidly in the modern age.

China and Zimbabwe have a history of relations dating as far back as the Munhumutapa Kingdom. According to Manyeruke and Mhandara, the relationship between China and Zimbabwe dates back to the Ming and Qing dynasty when the Chinese made contact with the Munhumutapa Empire to establish relations based on trade and cultural exchange (Manyeruke & Mhandara, 2011). Modern interactions between Zimbabwe and China begin with China’s support of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) during the liberation of Zimbabwe in the early 1960s and this forms the foundation for the interaction between the current Zimbabwe Government and China (Chun, 2014)pg5.

Between 1980-2000, the relations between Zimbabwe and China grew through joint projects, visits, and loans; in turn, Zimbabwe supported China’s right to stabilize its own domestic situation during the 1989 Beijing political turmoil (Chun, 2014)pg7. Corporation between the countries during this period did not amount to the greater economic corporation because Zimbabwe related more to the west and capitalism than communism (Chun, 2014)pg7. This position shifted significantly and tires between Zimbabwe and China strengthened due to the imposition of sanctions by the United States, the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom and other member states of NATO as a result of the land acquisition policy of the Zimbabwe government in 1997. In this period it was reported that trade increased from $56.35 million in 1997 to $125.45 million in 2000 (R.G, 2012).

In the years after 2000, Zimbabwe lost the favor of the international community due to its land reform program and as a result, Zimbabwe adopted its ‘Look East Policy’. Between the ‘Look East and the Forum on China–Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) platform, China and Zimbabwe were able to consolidate their relations especially commercially and this saw China providing credit facilities and loans to the Zimbabwean government, as well as supported the Zimbabwean project through investment projects in different sectors of the Zimbabwean economy (Chun, 2014)pg8. China also played an invaluable role by casting a veto in the UN Security Council (UNSC) along with Russia effectively preventing the imposition of more travel bans and financial restrictions on ZANU-PF’s top officials.

China- Zimbabwean relations are characterized mainly by the three pillars of strategic and diplomatic relations; economic relations; and social and cultural relations (Chun, 2014). For this paper, we will focus mainly on the economic relations between the two countries.  Bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe has seen an increase from $52.2 million in 1996  to  $275.25  million in 2006, with a peak of $874.37 million in 2011 (Chun, 2014) mainly attributed to China’s appetite for Zimbabwe’s mineral resources and raw materials. Trade relations have been strengthened through high-level visits by government officials, sharing experiences in different sectors and by the signing of an economic and technical agreement in February 2014 such that China is one of Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner (Chun, 2014). Zimbabwe primarily exports by cash crops (tobacco, cotton) and minerals (nickel and ferroalloys) to China with tobacco being the main export product. Zimbabwe imports manufactured goods (including clothing, textiles, and footwear), vehicles (cars, buses, tractors and aircraft), electrical machinery and other equipment although there have been concerns about the low quality of some goods and the negative impact of such goods on the local industry (Chun, 2014).

In terms of investment Chinese investments in Zimbabwe significantly increased due to the ‘Look East’ Policy as well as the growing number of Chinese citizens in the country. Chinese investment in Zimbabwe rose by more than 5 000% from 2009 to 2013 and with investment largely focused on mining, agriculture, and manufacturing, annual FDI from China increased from $11.2 million in 2009 to $602 million in 2013. From 1994 to 2003, there were only  three Chinese companies that had actively invested in Zimbabwe namely China Building Material Industrial Corporation for Foreign Econo-Technical Co-operation invested $5.844 million (65% of shares) in the Sino-Zimbabwe Cement  Company,  Zimna  Tractor  Assembly  Factory  invested  4.8  million  (58% of shares) in Dwala Enterprises (PVT) Ltd, and Hongda Intertexture Factory which invested $810,000 (50% of shares) in a private company named Super Garments (Chun, 2014). Since then the number has increased to 62 companies in May 2014 (Chun, 2014). However, due to recent Political turmoil in Zimbabwe, some of these companies such as Sino-nonferrous have moved to neighboring countries such as Zambia.


It is clear from the above that China and Zimbabwe have a long history of cooperation and mutual support but also have very different historical backgrounds. It is also important to note the significance of historical influences on current business practices. Leadership is also a study that is not restricted solely to the business arena. This study is significant in that it will help foster a better understanding of leadership styles within Chinese Joint Ventures which will as assist in increase efficiency and reduce conflict as a result of managers having different backgrounds. This will also help foster relations both within companied as well as within international relations between Zimbabwe and China.  .



We will now take a look the popular leadership style theories that have developed over time , the leadership styles found in joint ventures. This study will also look at Chinese leadership and Zimbabwean leadership styles.  Lastly, we will discuss the methodology, data analysis and findings.



There are numerous different leadership styles some of which are considered ideal leadership styles. However, it must be emphasized that leadership style which is perceived as ideal in on situation may not be so in another.  Leadership context which may include cultural differences, language and communication barriers, trust, business practices is an important consideration when a leader chooses a style to lead with.



In order to form a better understanding of what leadership entails we will take a closer look at the theories that have been proposed to explain the various leadership styles. Firstly it is important to define what a leader is. Collins English dictionary (Collins: English Dictionary , 2018) defines a leader as

 “a person who rules, guides, or inspires others; head”.

A leader, therefore, is a person who delegates or influences others to achieve a certain goal (Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy, 2014). A leadership style is defined as being the process in which the leader seeks the voluntary participation of subordinates in an effort to reach organization goals (Omolayo, 2007). This may also be defined by the manner in which managers exercise their authority in the workplace including how managers relate to colleagues and team members. This also relates to how managers plan and organize responsibility for the achievement of the objectives. (Mircea T., 2008)

Today organizations require effective leaders to understand the challenges of a global environment. Therefore there is a huge amount of research on leadership styles all concentrated on the effect and the effectiveness of various leadership styles.  We are also compelled to make a distinction between management and leadership.

According to Henry Mintzberg, whilst the distinction between Management and leadership styles exists it is not easily discernable in the day to day running of a business and as a result, the term leadership style has become common in recent years and has more or less replaced the term management styles (Mintzberg, 2009).  In the 20th Century, management style was predominantly thought to be how managers used their authority to get work done and successfully meet objectives (Chartered Management Institute, 2015). There has been a shift from the command and control style prevalent in the 1980s to today’s management styles which emphasize managers relate to the people who report to them (Chartered Management Institute, 2015). In addition to this, the management style should be informed by the culture of the organization, the nature of the tasks to be completed and the characteristics and expectations of their team members (Chartered Management Institute, 2015) (Chun, 2014).

Consequently, this paper will not seek to define management as opposed to leadership style but will briefly discuss the most well-known theories and approaches that have been brought forward to explain various types of leadership styles as well as the leadership context unique to Chinese- Zimbabwean Joint Venture Companies.

Approaches to Leadership style are divided into three dimensions namely trait, behavioral and the situational approach which will be briefly discussed below. After we look at traditional leadership styles we will turn to the leadership styles in Joint Ventures and leadership styles of Chinese and Zimbabwean leaders.



The theories of leadership have been evolving for centuries and leadership was once thought to be a condition of birth. One of the earliest leadership theories was the Great Man theory brought forward by Thomas Carlyle in 1847 which stated that leaders were born and only those man endowed with heroic potential could become leaders (Dobbins & Platz, (1986). After this theory was found to be fundamentally flawed, the Trait Theory emerged which presupposed that leaders had certain physical and personality traits which differentiated them from non-leaders (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Jenkins identified two traits as the cornerstones of leadership namely emergent traits which were reliant on heredity (e.g. as intelligence and height) and self-confidence and effectiveness traits (e.g. charisma) which were based on learning and/or experience (Ekvall & Arvonen,1991). Studies made on the trait theory by a number of scholars proved inconclusive and contradictory however Kirkpatrick and Locke did find some evidence that leaders were different from other people and that whilst leaders did not need to great intellects to succeed they needed the right traits in order to be successful (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).


In the 1940s, researchers made the shift from the trait theory to examine leadership behavior and its effect on the satisfaction and satisfaction of subordinates (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). The manner in which a leader chose to achieve a certain objective is a reflection of the leader’s leadership style and its effectiveness depended on the manager’s personal traits, and the use of different management styles (Mircea T., 2008).  It is important to note that different theorists determined that different aspects of a leader’s behavior determined their style. For example Lewin’s original leadership styles focused on how a leader made decisions similarly Likert’s leadership styles focused on decision-making and involvement of subordinates, in contrast the Managerial grid categorized leaders by the extent to which they showed concern for people or task completion. These styles are discussed in more detail below.

Original Leadership styles

Kurt Lewin is credited for the three different styles of leadership, all centered around decision-making  (Gill, 2018). The three leadership styles were laissez-faire or permissive leadership, democratic style and authoritarian style.

The permissive (“laisser-faire”) style ischaracterized by the avoidance of involvement in group organizing and leading. The activity efficiency is not dependent on the presence of the manager. In this style, the manager is low spirited and does not support the group in fulfilling the tasks (Mircea T., 2008). The laisser-faire style is characterized by a lack of interest for a promotion up the company hierarchy (Mircea T., 2008). These managers have a realistic image of themselves and are able to balance positive and negative traits in their personality and treat subordinates as equals (Mircea T., 2008).

The democratic style is characteristic of managers who allow their subordinates to participate in leadership. This style reduces tension and conflict whilst increasing staff involvement and the reduced control attitude may foster innovative work (Mircea T., 2008). The manager’s presence or absence affects the group’s efficiency as the manager supports the group and is high spirited in contrast to permissive style (Mircea T., 2008).

The authoritarian style or autocratic style is typically characteristic of the managers who refuse their subordinates involvement in leadership. These managers make their own decisions on setting objectives and they focus on task supervision and this reduces professional improvement for their subordinates (Mircea T., 2008). The limitation of employee involvement in decision making consequently results in professional alienation where the subordinates will have a reduced sense of responsibility, participation, and creativity. In addition to this excessive supervision of subordinated will result in confusion when the manager is not present (Mircea T., 2008).

Managerial Grid Model

The Managerial Grid Model also known as the Leadership Grid was developed by R. R. Blake and J. S. Mouton to help managers analyze their own leadership styles. This model was considered one of the most influential management models in the 1960’s, and it provides the basis for the more complex contingency approaches to leadership (iEduNote, 2017). The Model was based on two behavioral dimensions namely:

  1. Concern for people which was the extent to which a leader considers the needs, interests, and areas of personal development of their subordinates when deciding the best manner to accomplish a task. In the grid, the concern for people was located on the vertical axis and the concern for production was located on the horizontal axis as shown below (iEduNote, 2017).
  2. Concern for production: This concern for production had to do with the extent to which a leader emphasizes concrete objectives, organizational efficiency, and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task (iEduNote, 2017) and less to do with  task assignment and group creation.

The Managerial Grid Model provided that a manager’s concern for his employees and his concern for production can be assessed on a scale of 1-9. Level 1 denoted the lowest level of concern whilst Level 9 denotes the highest level of concern (iEduNote, 2017).

9 1-9 9-9

Concern for employees

5 5-5
1 1-1 9-1
1 2

Concern for Production

3 4 5 6 7 8 9


Figure 1The Managerial Grid

(Sourced from (iEduNote, 2017))

According to the above table, five basic management styles emerge, namely:

The Impoverished Leadership-Low Production and Low People or the apathetic manager (square 1-1) is the most ineffective manager who shows little concern for production and employees and exerts minimum effort to reach assigned goals and to lead employees. (Mircea T., 2008)This Manager’s main goal is to avoid being held responsible for any mistakes and uses this style to preserve job and job seniority (iEduNote, 2017).

The Country Club Style Leadership High People and Low Production or the staff orientated manager (square 1-9). This style of leadership preferring to focus on human resources by resolving employees problems and creating a pleasant working environment in the hope of increasing their performance and has a low concern for production. This type of leader is unable to employ coercive and legitimate powers for fear that it will jeopardize his relationships and as a result employees work at their own pace (iEduNote, 2017).

The Produce or Perish Leadership- High Production and Low People or the task-oriented style (square 9-1) is a manager that prioritizes production efficiency to the detriment and neglect of subordinates. This type of manager is very autocratic has strict work policies and procedures, and views punishment as the most effective means to motivate employees (iEduNote, 2017). The Manager views the needs of the employees as a means to an end and has little allowance for cooperation or collaboration (iEduNote, 2017).

The style of the group-oriented manager (square 9-9) is one based on Douglas McGregor’s assumption of Theory Y, the manager shows high concern for both production and employees (iEduNote, 2017). This style relies on making employees feel included and as constructive members of the organization. The efficiency of these managers is based on the efforts exerted to solve problems arising from production and employees (iEduNote, 2017). The managers and employees have an interactive, participative and cooperative relationship based on mutual respect leading to high motivation (Mircea T., 2008).

The last style is the Middle-Of-The-Road Leadership-Medium Production and Medium People or the moderate undetermined manager (square 5-5), called the ‘balanced’ and compromised style because the manager gives concern to issues of production and employees to achieve acceptable performance (iEduNote, 2017). This style ensures increased employee morale and optimal production performance.

This model has been criticized because while it is the best model for managers to work toward it is difficult to achieve and the needs of the company do not correlate with the needs of the employees (Managers, 2018).

Likert’s leadership styles

In 1947 Rensis Likert and his associates conducted an extensive survey of management and leadership patterns in a large number of organizations and focused on how authority was exercised (Juneja, 2018). The aim of this research was to determine the principles and methods of effective leadership (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). The four main styles of leadership centered on decision-making and the degree to which people are involved in the decision. The four styles are explained below.

a) Exploitive authoritative dictatorial style.

This style is very similar to Lewin’s autocratic leadership style. In this style, the leader has a low concern for people and uses fear-based methods such as threats to achieve conformance (Juneja, 2018). Communication is almost entirely downwards and the psychologically distant concerns of people are ignored.

b) Benevolent authoritative autocratic (authoritarian)

A ‘benevolent dictatorship’ is formed when the leader adds concern for people to an authoritative position. The leader will use rewards to encourage suitable performance and listens more to concerns lower down the organization, although what they hear is often biased, being limited to what their subordinates think that the boss wants to hear (Juneja, 2018). Although there may be some delegation of decisions, almost all major decisions are still made centrally.

c) Consultative participative-advisory style

In this style, the leader is making efforts to listen to ideas and discusses work and production issues with their subordinates (Juneja, 2018). However, the major decisions and objectives are still largely made by the manager alone. The consultation with subordinates offers them the opportunity to take part in both decision-making and management (Juneja, 2018).

d) Participative extremely participative style

At this level, the leader makes maximum use of participative methods, engaging people in the organization in decision-making and implies a large participation of the subordinates in the production process (Juneja, 2018). Employees identify with the established objectives, thus stimulating motivation and interest. Employees across the organization are also closer together and work well together at all levels.


Leadership theories have evolved to suggest that leadership effectiveness is a function of leadership situations that is context. Therefore we will look at the third approach to leadership. It is important to note that the situational leadership models that are explored below have some similarities and some differences (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). The models are similar in that they (1) focus on the dynamics of leadership, (2) have stimulated research on leadership, and (3) are criticized because of measurement problems, limited research testing, or contradictory research results (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Fiedler’s Contingency Leadership Model

Fiedler presupposed that group performance depended on leadership styles and the situation conduciveness. The contingency theory opined that because of a number of variables such as the environmental, internal and external situations there was no leadership style that was accurate in every situation. In order to determine the favorability of a leader’s environment and the degree of situational conduciveness Fielder proposed three factors namely the leader-member relationship, the task structure, and the position power.

These three factors determine the most favorable situation for the leader, therefore a leader with a good leader-member relationship; high task structure and a strong power position would be the most favorable situation whilst poor relations, low task structure, and a weak power position is the least favorable situation (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Fiedler’s theory has been criticized that the LPC measure which was used was not reliable and its validity was low. In addition, some critics say that the Fiedler’s variables are imprecise. However, Fiedler played a prominent role in encouraging the scientific study and made aware the complexities of the leadership process (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Path-Goal Theory

The Path-Goal theory of leadership falls under the contingency perspective of leadership which presupposes that the most appropriate leadership style depends on the situation. Rooted in the expectancy theory of motivation the Path-Goal theory states that effective leaders ensure that employees who perform well at their jobs will be rewarded accordingly. Arguably part of the leader’s job is path clarification which the clarification to subordinates the kind of behavior that will likely lead to goal accomplishment.

According to McShane (2012), the Path-Goal theory of leadership highlights four leadership styles namely Directive, supportive, Participative and achievement – oriented and two types of situational variables. These variables are the personal characteristics of subordinates and the environmental pressures and demands which subordinates must cope with to accomplish desired goals (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).

The directive leader informs subordinates of his expectations, performance goals and also provides psychological structures for subordinates. Directive leadership is considered a more task-oriented leadership style.

The supportive leader treats his subordinates as equals and shows concern for their needs and well-being. This leader is friendly making work more pleasant and also provides psychological structures for subordinates (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).

Participative Leadership involves employees in decision making by consulting with subordinates and takes suggestions from subordinates seriously (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).

Achievement orientated leadership is concerned with employees reaching their peak performance, therefore, leaders set challenging goals and expect the subordinates to perform to their highest level showing a high degree of confidence in subordinates (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).

An important aspect of the personal characteristic of subordinates variable is the subordinates perception of their ability. The higher a subordinate perceives their ability in relation to the task the more likely the subordinate will not accept a directive leadership style because it is viewed as unnecessary (micromanagement) (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). In addition, whether the subordinate has an internal locus of control, which is the belief that rewards are contingent on their efforts, or an external locus of control which the belief that rewards are beyond their personal control, will also affect their response (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Subordinates with an internal locus of control are generally more satisfied with a participative style, while those with an external locus of control will generally be more satisfied with a directive style.

Environment variables include the formal authority system of the organization, the task itself and the workgroup and are basically factors outside the subordinates control (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

The Path goal theory has been criticized for not being sufficiently tested and therefore it cannot be concluded to provide an accurate portrayal of leadership in organizations (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). However, this theory is an improvement from the trait and personal behavioral theories as it introduces the situational factors and individual differences when looking at leader behavior and outcomes.

Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory

This theory was developed by Hersey and Blanchard and unlike other theories is readily applicable and more usable and therefore is endorsed by managers of large firms and small businesses (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Unlike other theories, the situational leadership theory (SLT) focuses on follower’s level of “readiness” which is defined as the extent to which followers are willing to take responsibility for directing their own behavior (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). The leader must therefore accurately judge their follower’s readiness level. The extent of ‘readiness’ is dependent on the follower’s job readiness which is the degree to which the follower has the knowledge and abilities to perform the job without structuring and supervision from a manager (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Hersey and Blanchard (2013) developed four leadership styles for managers which are Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating.

This model has been criticized because there is very little evidence that the model actually works (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). In addition, it is criticized on the notion that the leaders are not as flexible as there are perceived in this model.


This section will mainly focus on Leadership styles in Joint Ventures ,Chinese leadership styles as on Zimbabwean leadership styles.



A  Joint venture is defined as According to the Collin English Dictionary:

“A joint venture is defined as a business or project which two or more companies or individuals have invested, with the intention of working together.” (Collins: English Dictionary, 2017)

Discussion of leadership style would be incomplete without looking at the most popular leadership styles which have recently emerged and which are considered the leadership styles most prevalent in Joint Venture Companies. Successful Leaders in these joint Ventures are expected to be able to influence the various stakeholders such as their teams, board members, customers and shareholders (Gumbo, June 2015).  It is expected that leaders in the business environment are visionaries, with excellent communication, who should be trustworthy, with integrity, and have characteristics that others would imitate (Gumbo, June 2015).  These styles include transactional, transformational, authentic and global leadership.

Transactional Leadership

This is a type of leadership which emphasizes exchange (Gumbo, June 2015). The leader assisted the follower to identify and accomplish desired results, and in helping, the leader gains insight into the follower’s self-concept and esteem needs. In the transactional leadership style, the leader utilizes contingent rewards and management by exception which means the leader only involves themselves when objectives are not being met (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Research shows that followers exhibit an increase in performance and satisfaction when contingent reinforcement is used (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Unreliable performance appraisal systems subjectively administered rewards, and poor managerial skills are some reasons suggested for transaction leadership style not often being found in organizations (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Another prominent reason for the lack of transactional leadership in organizations may be a result of a lack of understanding on the part of managers have their employees (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership prioritizes the interests of the group over the interests of the individual and focuses on the growth of both leader and follower (Whiltshire, 2012). This type of leadership is viewed as a special example of transactional leadership, in which the leader encourages followers to work for goals, achievement, and self- actualization instead of self- interest and security, therefore rewards are internal (Gumbo, June 2015). Transformational leaders convince followers to work hard to achieve an envisioned goal and the motivation of the follower is self-reward and a transformational leader may be directive or participative, or even authoritarian (Whiltshire, 2012). A transformational leader will make major changes to an organization’s way of doing business, philosophy, system, and culture in order to achieve their vision (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Bass, through his research, identified five factors that describe transformational leadership, two of these factors also apply to transactional leadership. These factors are:

Charisma: Which refers the leader’s ability to articulate and instill a sense of value, respect, and pride in a vision. This is considered the most important characteristic of a transformational leader but it is not sufficient on its own (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Individual attention: This is the leader’s attention to followers’ personal growth through the assignment of meaningful projects (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Intellectual stimulation: This the extent to which the leader encourages followers to be creative and assists followers to rethink rational ways to examine a situation (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Contingent reward:  The transformational leader informs followers about is expected of them in order for them to receive the rewards they prefer. This is the similar to transactional leadership (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

Management by exception: Also similar to transactional leadership. The transformational leader allows followers to work on the task without intervention unless goals have not been accomplished within reasonable time and cost (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013).

In order to be effective, transformational leaders also require good communication skill, assessment skills, and social awareness.

Authentic Leadership

Avolio et al. (2009:423) defines Authentic Leadership as “a pattern of transparent and ethical leader behavior that encourages openness in sharing information needed to make decisions while accepting followers’ inputs”.

Authentic leadership is thought to be leadership that embodies charismatic, transformational, visionary, ethical, transactional, directive and participatory leadership (Gumbo, June 2015). The four components that make up authentic leaders are  strong understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses that is self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective which is ethical decision making and ethical behavior, balanced processing which is the unbiased assessment of information before coming to a decision also includes encouraging others to challenge  one’s values and  relational transparency being true to one’s values and expressing this to others   (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). Authentic leaders are thought to be true to themselves, not motivated by external benefit such as honor or personal gain but make decisions based on their personal values (Gumbo, June 2015). There is, therefore, an expectation that authentic leaders will eliminate deceitful and manipulative actions in the workplace whilst promoting honesty and integrity.

Global Leadership

These are the skills, capabilities and characteristics of those that take on global leadership responsibilities. These leaders are thought to be able to lead across a variety of cultures and are distinct in that the global context exerts a greater influence than in domestic leaders (Gumbo, June 2015).

According to Northouse (2010) a global leader must develop five core competencies namely understanding business, political, and cultural environments globally, learning perspectives, trends and technologies of many other cultures, the ability to work concurrently with people from many cultures, the ability to adapt to living and communicating in other cultures, and the ability to relate to people from other cultures from a position of equality (Northouse, 2010).


There are 4 main leadership styles which Chinese Executives which have been identified by Tsui(2004). These are Advanced Leadership, Authoritative Leadership, Progressing Leadership style and the Invisible Leadership style (Tsui, Wang, Xin, Zhang, & Fu, 2004). The Advanced Leader was thought to be highly intelligent, creative, well accomplished and sophisticated heralded as a hero by people inside and outside the organization (Tsui, Wang, Xin, Zhang, & Fu, 2004).

The  Authoritative Leader is portrayed as being hard working and rule-driven, with a high task-orientation and an authoritative figure which tries to control the behavior of employees (Tsui, Wang, Xin, Zhang, & Fu, 2004).

The Progressing Leadership style is similar to the advanced but the leader has yet to reach the level of an Advanced leader, therefore, they are progressing (Tsui, Wang, Xin, Zhang, & Fu, 2004).

Lastly, the Invisible Leader, discussed as “a gentle stream that flows quietly along its set path”(Tsui, Wang, Xin, Zhang, & Fu, 2004), is one the goes with the flow similar to the laisser-faire leader discussed above.

In the workplace in China, the predominant leadership style is paternalistic leadership.  rooted in China’s patriarchal tradition (Chen & Lee, 2008). In this style, managers take a father figure role to subordinates by providing guidance, protection, nurture, and care while the subordinates, like filial children, show loyalty and deference to the manager (Chen & Lee, 2008).


While there is very little research on this area one study of Zimbabwean leadership styles shows that the most dominant leadership styles in the private sector is transactional leadership followed by transformational leadership(Mwenje & Mwenje, 2017).  The study also found that Laissez-faire leadership style was infrequent within the organizations in which the study was undertaken (Mwenje & Mwenje, 2017). In comparison to managers in the public sector, private sector managers surpassed them in idealized influence, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration (Mwenje & Mwenje, 2017).


The focus of the above theories such as Path-goals theory, transformational, transactional and authentic leadership reflected the need to understand leadership within the context of a business environment. Leadership does not occur in isolation. In organizations, effectiveness depends more on a company’s competitive challenges, legacies, and other shifting forces than on the traits of any one manager (Bazigos, Gagnon, & Schaninger, 2016). In order to achieve to relevant goals, a leader in a specific national culture may need to apply several attitudes and behaviors to achieve the right blend of influence (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Referred to as adaptive capacity by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas, this is the ability to change one’s style and approach to fit the culture, context, or condition of an organization. It is important to look at the context of Joint Venture companies to gain a better understanding of the leadership styles that emerge.

The efficiency of the organization is tested when we consider the numerous factors which may prevent a leader from effectively running the organization. These factors may include:

  1. Language Barrier and Communication,
  2. Culture Dynamics,
  3. Business Practice and Work Ethic
  4. Power Dynamics
  5. Trust.

These factors among others contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of Sino-Zim Joint Venture Vehicles, the type of working environment which they result in and the effectiveness of leadership styles adopted. These will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapters of this thesis paper.

These factors among others contribute to a volatile and in some cases hostile working environment and may negatively impact the leadership style a manager may choose to utilize.


Cultural difference which reflects different personal values should not be confused with the Cultural Diversity. Cultural differences often pose problems in the proper running of an organization.

A cultural study conducted by Bass found that leadership attributes associated with effective leadership results vary across cultures (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Bass identified seven factors related to leadership effectiveness namely preferred awareness which is the willingness to be aware of others’ feelings, actual understanding of oneself and others, submission to rules and authority, the reliance on others in problem-solving, preference of group decision making, the concern for human relations and cooperative peer relations. (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Hofstede often emphasizes the differences in leadership between the east and west which are a result of cultural reasons.

Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions provide a foundation to investigate cross-cultural leadership effectiveness characteristics (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). It can be ascertained that people from high power distance cultures such India, East Africa, and Indonesia may prefer an autocratic style of leadership because they are more comfortable with a clear distinction between managers and subordinates (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). On the other hand, employees from countries such as Austria with low power distance would prefer a more participative style of leadership (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). Hofstede was therefore of the view that styles which were viewed as being the best leadership styles such as participative management could, in fact, be counterproductive in other cultures. In other words, this issue concerns the transferability of leadership styles across different cultures.

Leadership in a multicultural environment is challenging and it is therefore important when developing a leadership style to not only consider skills and competencies but also the subordinates, the peers, the superiors, the task, and the task environment (Ivancevich, Konopaske, & Matteson, 2013). There is no universal way to lead and Joint ventures require the leader to make a careful study of the culture, history, expectations, and working environments in which he finds himself.

Power Distance (PDI)

This is the extent of expectation and acceptance of unequal distribution of power by less powerful members of a society (Hofstede Insights, 2018). In other words, this is basically how a society deals with inequality. Hofstede was of the view that inequality was inherent in all society and it was only the degree of inequality that differed (Virkus, 2009).

Individualism versus Collectivism

On the one end of this dimension is Individualism which is societies with a preference for loose ties or loose-knit social structures (Hofstede, 2011). People in this type of society tend to look after themselves and their immediate family (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Collectivism is found on the other end of this dimension. People in this type of society prefer tight-knit social structures and are integrated into strong cohesive in-groups which include extended family members (Virkus, 2009). This society will often prioritize the group wants and needs over an individual’s wants and needs (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Masculinity versus Femininity

Sometimes referred to as “tough versus tender” culture, this is the inclination a society has when making decisions or solving conflict (Virkus, 2009).

Societies which are inclined toward masculinity prefer achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards for success and more competitive (Hofstede Insights, 2018). In contrast, society femininity inclined to prefer cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life and is more consensus-oriented (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Uncertainty Avoidance Index

This refers to the extent to which a society tolerates uncertainty and ambiguity (Virkus, 2009). In other words, this dimension refers to the degree to which members of this society are comfortable with unstructured situations (Hofstede Insights, 2018). Societies which score high on this index demonstrate rigid codes of belief and behavior, whilst low scoring societies have a more relaxed attitude and are more tolerant of opinions different from their own. (Virkus, 2009)

Long-Term Orientation versus Short-Term Normative Orientation

This dimension is sometimes referred to as Monumentalism versus Flex-humility and is based on the view that societies prioritize either maintaining time-honored traditions and norms or a more pragmatic approach to better prepare for the future (Hofstede Insights, 2018).

Societies that score high in this dimension are Long-Term Orientation societies and value thrift and perseverance (Hofstede Insights, 2018); societies that score low in this dimension, value associated with respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one’s ‘face’ and are considered of a Short Term Orientation (Hofstede, 2011). Short-term orientation cultures value tradition, the current social hierarchy and fulfilling your social obligations (Grimsley, 2018). Long-term time orientation cultures demonstrate more concern with the future and focus their efforts on future-orientated goals (Grimsley, 2018).

Indulgence vs. Restraint

Indulgence dimension has to do with the extent a society allows for reasonable fulfillment of basic and natural human efforts of enjoying life and having fun (Hofstede, 2011). In contrast, restraint is the extent to which a society uses strict social norms to suppress the fulfillment of needs (Hofstede, 2011).

  1. TRUST

According to Mineo (2014):

trust is the glue that binds the leader to her /his followers and provides the capacity for organizational and leadership success”. (Mineo, 2014)

The above statement correctly presupposes that even if a leader has a vision and drive to achieve his/her vision without the trust of followers that vision will be hard to achieve. Therefore a leader must gain the trust of his/her followers in order to lead (Mineo, 2014). In order to gain the trust of followers, Mineo suggests the leader possess three qualities namely, credibility gained through open and honest communication with followers, respect gained through supporting the development, collaborating with and showing care for followers. Lastly, a leader must exhibit fairness through fair treatment of followers, the absence of favoritism and follows due process (Mineo, 2014). It is important to note that trust is to a certain extent reciprocal, where a leader shows trust in his/her followers, the followers will be more willing to trust their leader (Mineo, 2014). Therefore where followers perceive that a leader is biased or unfair or distrusts their follower’s trust will be difficult to achieve.


Business ethics is a broad field of study which exams the moral, corporate social responsibility business decision making and practices (Investopedia, 2017). Companies that originate in different parts of the world will have a differing perspective on business ethics due to distinct history and development of the field. Different business practices may


McShane defines communication as the process of transmission and decoding of information between two or more people. Communication is an important tool for organizational learning helps people work interdependently and aids employee wellbeing (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012). There are many modes of communication including words, gestures, voice intonations, signs and symbols. With many modes of communication, the ways in which a message may be misunderstood are also many and are divided into four broad factors.  Firstly, the ability to interpret a message may be affected by the communication channel which has been used. For instance, different people may communicate better through written messages whilst others prefer face to face communication (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).  The second factor that could affect the interpretation of a message is if parties share the same understanding of the context of the information i.e. the same mental models meaning that there is less need to clarify the information (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).

The third factor which may affect the understanding process will be the how proficient the sender is able to relay the message, therefore the level of experience encoding the message will allow the message to be better understood (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012).

The fourth factor that may affect a person’s ability to understand a message could be that the parties are using different “codebooks” such as symbols, gestures, and idioms (McShane & Von Glinow, 2012). Language barrier also falls into this category.

According to the Collins dictionary, Language barrier is the lack of communication between people who speak different languages (Collins Dictionary, 2017). In an organization set up, it is vitally important that managers communicate effectively. Language barrier adds another dimension that may negatively impact the ability of a leader to effectively lead.

According to Luthra (2005) leader is a person with the ability to assume responsibility, direct, inspire, or motivate others. In order to do so, a leader must be able to convince others to participate or follow the leader to his/her objective(Luthra & Dahiya, 2015).  A leader must, therefore, be able to effectively communicate the goal to his followers. In addition, a leader with good communication skills will help foster better understanding and beliefs among followers and inspire them to follow the principles which their leader wants to instill in them (Luthra & Dahiya, 2015).

Luthra (2015) pointed out however that communication is a two-pronged process which involves not only speaking but also listening. By listening, the leader is able to gauge whether what he/she has said has been understood and then plan a course in either case. In addition, followers are more willing to follow a leader who listens to them.

As noted above, there are a number of barriers to communication which negatively affect leadership. It is important to note that both Language and culture are challenged to leadership in that in language meaning may be lost in translation; the message can be lost in translation rendering the resulting message either receiving an incomplete message or misinterpreting the message. Similarly, body language, gestures and even tone of voice may mean different things in different cultures resulting in misinterpretation.

An example of communication barrier is that in other cultures nodding indicates assent whilst if Chinese nod while a person speaks, this suggests that the listener understands what the speaker is saying and may not indicate agreement (Chinese Culture, 2018).  In addition, for the sake of saving face discussed above, Chinese will seldom give a flat negative response to proposals made, even when they do not agree with it (Chinese Culture, 2018).

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Leadership can be defined as an individual or group of people influencing others to work towards a common goal. A good leader will be motivational and supportive, getting the best out of others when trying to achieve their objectives.

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