A newly-released book based on research at Stellenbosch University Business School, aims to provide practical lessons in management innovation from leaders of African companies.
Titled Afro-Global Management Innovation Practices: Re-imagining Work and Workplaces, the book illustrates how African companies are finding new ways to lead and manage for sustainable competitive advantage in the 21st century.
Lead author Marius Ungerer, Professor of Strategic Management and Strategic Leadership at the Stellenbosch Business School, said that while the technological innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are currently the focus in business, they need to be accompanied by innovations in management – the planning, procedures, processes and systems of “how things get done here” – in order to unlock the full competitive advantage of innovation.
“We are living in times of dramatic change, with a multitude of forces changing the very nature of work and workplaces, yet the way we practise management has not changed much in the last 50 to 60 years. The result is an ever-growing mismatch between what people expect to experience in the 21st century workplace and how organisations are managed,” he said.
Management innovation is an emerging field of study, with limited research conducted to date on how companies in Africa are innovating in the traditional management practices of planning, organising, leading and controlling. The book aims to change the lack of research on management innovation in Africa by combining global management trends with insights and lessons from case studies of 13 innovative companies from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
“Leaders play the key role in fostering innovation by creating the organisational culture, structure and processes that support innovation,” Ungerer said.
Ungerer and a team of nine Stellenbosch Business School MBA students interviewed 60 leaders of the 13 companies, which included small, medium and large businesses, four of them listed companies, in diverse sectors from construction, energy, telecommunications and manufacturing to media, financial services and technology.
The companies were selected on the basis of having sound financial performance, a reputation for innovation and a high proportion of knowledge workers.
“The case study companies have one thing in common – they have a desire to manage in positive ways, bringing out the best in people. Their leaders are passionate about creating businesses that are a force for good, highly human-centric and intensely customer-focused,” noted Ungerer.
The book is the outcome of three years of collaborative research, with key findings said to be that virtuous, authentic and ethical leadership positively impacts on a company’s ability to innovate in its management practices, leading to high-performing companies.
The book pulls together common themes and patterns across the case studies to offer five guiding principles for creating future-fit organisations, “making them more fit for human beings while also serving the economic, social, environmental and governmental needs of multiple stakeholders.”
The book also provides practical guidance and lessons from the case studies on what innovation means in practice in each of the traditional management functions of planning, organising, leading and controlling.
The book’s co-authors are management thinker and author Johan Herholdt and Anton Schlechter, Professor of Organisational Psychology in the School of Management Studies at the University of Cape Town.
Afro-Global Management Innovation Practices: Re-imagining Work and Workplaces is published by African Sun Media and is available from the publisher or from a number of online retailers.