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School of Business and Management

Anita Maharaj

 Anita Maharaj


Project title

South Africa vs. UK: the role of situational and organisational factors in the facilitation or conflict of leader identities and their race/gender.

Project description

Despite globalisation and the increasing participation of diverse individuals (women and minorities) in the workplace, they remain underrepresented in management roles. Current leadership theories do not reflect the leadership preferences of women and minorities as they are based on majority leaders’ situated in North America. It may then be important to ascertain whether (and how) the leadership preferences of women and minorities may differ from majority leaders’. Factors that privilege a majority group may result in obstacles and alienation for women and minorities, whose leadership styles may not be acknowledged and therefore remain alien to organisations. This may result in women and minorities not gaining leadership positions and organisations missing out on their unique perspectives and potential. Utilising social identity theory, intergroup theory and intersectionality, this research aims to address this gap in the research by investigating what the situational and organisational factors are that lead to leader and race/gender identity conflict or facilitation. Additionally, to address the rarity of cross-cultural studies, a comparison of South Africa and the UK will be investigated. This qualitative research will utilise critical incident technique to investigate the experiences of leaders; situations in which their leader identity and BME/female identities’ were in harmony or conflict. Organisational factors that lead to identity conflict/harmony will also be investigated.  Using grounded theory is considered to be appropriate given the need to develop theory based on diverse leadership. This research hopes to achieve: the extension and broadening of leadership theories that include women/BME individuals; to prioritise the contextual nature of leadership whereby differences are based on contexts differing in legal, historical and demographic attributes, therefore not just a westernised view of leadership, and contributing to learning in organisations on how to incorporate diverse identities in the organisation. It is hoped that this research will help women and minorities gain identity recognition in organisations and thereby contribute to increasing the number of diverse individuals in leadership positions.


1st Supervisor:  Dr Doyin Atewologun 
2nd Supervisor: Professor Geraldine Healy

Centre and Group Membership

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