As a leading African business school, GIBS produces research that is designed to help African business leaders understand the evolving African business environment. In every edition of Acumen magazine, we feature some of the research coming out of GIBS. This way you have a guide to what is being produced and how it can be applied to your business.

Research Papers

Antecedents and enablers of supply chain value creation: An analysis of trust and competencies

Yusuf Kiwala, Johan Olivier & Ismail Kintu 

Professor Johan Olivier shared his insights into the research with Acumen. He says, “The objective of this study was to better understand how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) create value in local supply chains.” He explained that, more specifically, the study focused on two initiators of value creation: entrepreneurial competences and supply chain trust.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The value local SMEs create for their customers depends on the level of trust in their supply chain relationships, which include suppliers and customers.
  • The valued benefits local firms enjoy from suppliers depend on the level of trust in B2B supplier relationships.
  • Face-to-face interactions with high performers helps build trust, which circumvents replication in how supply chain partners combine resources.
  • The qualities driving trust in customer relationships are quite different from those driving trust in supplier relationships, suggesting that SME owner-managers behave differently in relation to customers and suppliers.
  • The results revealed that high levels of trust increase the value suppliers attach to the owner-managers’ competences, while mistrust erodes it. By contrast, the level of trust does not alter the value customers attach to SME owner-managers’ competences.

Practical business application

Olivier explains that the study results demonstrate that investors contemplating investing in promoting SMEs through local procurement should consider the impact of trust and competences in improving supply chain performance. Practitioners can improve SMEs’ relevance in local procurement if they shift focus towards building trusted networks and developing competences.

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1080/0376835X.2022.2029356

Transitioning to online teaching during the pandemic period: The role of innovation and psychological characteristics

Alex Ntsiful, Michael Kwarteng, Michal Pilík & Christian Osakwe

Alex Ntsiful says about the research, “Until 5 May 2023, when WHO declared it over, the Covid-19 pandemic affected all spheres of life. Educational institutions, especially those in Africa, were hit hard as they had no other means of teaching. However, the pandemic was so incessant that these institutions were forced to adopt online teaching." He notes that the research sheds light on salient factors that could affect faculty members’ decisions to adopt online teaching in higher education.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Online teaching has a relative advantage, compared to face-to-face teaching.
  • Teaching online during the pandemic was beneficial (observability) because faculty members could avoid being infected by, or infecting, students.
  • The level of trust faculty members have in governmental institutions to provide the necessary facilitating conditions also affected their decision to use online teaching.
  • Online teaching is compatible with traditional teaching and easy to adopt to save a situation.

Practical business application

When it comes to the value of this research to businesses, Ntsiful says, “Our findings inform owners of private universities to adopt online teaching as an extra curriculum to ensure business continuity in times of future pandemics.” He adds to do so successfully, educational institutions need to showcase the relative advantage of online teaching and acquire online teaching gadgets that are compatible, easy to use, and that all users can easily see. Key to online teaching, however, says Ntsiful, is that universities need to ensure an adequate power supply and stable internet connectivity to avoid frustrations that make users develop a negative attitude towards its acceptance.    

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-022-09613-w

The face of nonbinary beauty communication on Instagram: A content analysis

Ria Wiid, Tomas Müllern & Adele Berndt

Adele Berndt explains that marketing images remain an integral part of any marketing communication strategy, particularly in product categories such as fashion and beauty. When it comes to this research, Berndt says, “Gender is a common feature in beauty advertising, with binary (male/female) predominating these images. The development of a more nuanced approach to gender requires beauty organisations to consider the images used in their advertising, and the genders shown in these images. This is especially relevant to Generation Z consumers, who view gender differently from other consumers.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Instagram was the source of the non-female images analysed in the study, which serves as a rich source of nonbinary images.
  • Gender is a cultural expression that both reflects and impacts how consumers perceive themselves and others, and people continuously renegotiate their gender identity.
  • While most of these images reflect genderqueer individuals, a group was also identified as that of agendered models. This group does not consider themselves as being either male or female, and this may also result in the development of stereotypes.

Practical business application

The research is useful to businesses marketing to Generation Z consumers. Berndt says, “The changing perception of gender presents the organisation with a choice regarding whether to retain its narrow approach to advertising images or whether to expand a broader view of gender and gender identities.” She does say that while there are risks associated with this choice, it may provide the organisation with a competitive advantage as they appeal to a wider customer base.

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1080/10641734.2022.2089786

Exploring the nexus between microlevel and contextual influencers on women leaders' paradox mindset 

Lydia Amaro & Caren Scheepers

Lydia Amaro explains the importance of the research by saying, “One of the challenges women face in attaining leadership is an incongruence between how society perceives leader identity and their own gender identity.” Gender stereotypes depict women as being predominantly communal, while men are depicted as being agentic. Women, however, are viewed as incompetent when deemed too highly communal, or face backlash when exhibiting highly agentic attributes. She says, “This study has implications for women leaders and the coping strategies to apply when faced with this paradoxical tension.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Authenticity and self-awareness, the micro foundations of the individual woman, are the key enablers to embrace a paradox mindset.
  • The organisational environment influences the context within which these women operate.
  • Authenticity and self-awareness empower women towards action in addressing and not just accepting the tension.
  • Being rooted in their true selves enable women to perceive, interpret, then respond more naturally to situations as they have ownership over their personal values and beliefs to act in alignment to their true self.

Practical business application

In a world where diversity in the workplace is being seen as crucial, the conceptual model developed in this study could be presented to up-and-coming female leaders to help develop their ability to develop a paradox mindset to shape and improve the leadership pipeline as they will be better able to grapple with these tensions in new ways. Therefore, this study can inform and support women’s leadership and personal development programmes.

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-11-2021-0335

The influence of female agentic and communal leadership on work engagement: Vigour, dedication and absorption

Robyn Dunlop & Caren Scheepers

Robyn Dunlop says, “In South Africa there is an underrepresentation of females in senior leadership positions.” In addition, she says, the levels of work engagement among employees working in South Africa are extremely low. Both challenges result in negative and costly consequences. Dunlop says, “Therefore, the aim of the research was to identify the influence that female leaders have on work engagement, focussing on agentic and communal leadership styles, to contribute to the discourse of both challenges.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Women who exhibit a communal style (feminine: trustworthy, inspiring and compassionate) and those who exhibit an agentic style (masculine: assertiveness, competitiveness, independence) both influence work engagement.
  • The communal style has a far stronger positive association with employee engagement.
  • These results encourage management to promote women, with both agentic and communal leadership styles, into senior positions, allowing organisations to benefit from higher female representation, including an improved work engagement.

Practical business application

Dunlop says only 9% of South African employees said to be engaged in their work is extremely costly to businesses. As such, business leaders should seek to hire women for senior leadership roles to effectively promote work engagement. The impact of not only female leaders, but female leaders who are perceived to be communal, needs to be recognised. In addition, women with agentic leadership styles should learn to engage in a communal style, to enhance the influence they have on employees’ emotional, physical and cognitive connections to work. The combination of both masculine and feminine leadership traits, androgynous leadership, is known to be an effective leadership style.

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1108/MRR-11-2021-0796

Cultural influences on future transportation technology usage: The role of personal innovativeness, technology anxiety and desire

Michael Kwarteng, Alex Ntsiful, Christian Osakwe, Abdul Jibril & Miloslava Chovancova

Michael Kwarteng explains that in response to heavy traffic and congestion in our cities, the transport and aviation industries, leveraging emerging digital technology advances, have manufactured on-demand air mobility (ODAM) or flying taxis. ODAM is expected to be launched and become fully operational by 2030, but its acceptability by the general public remains to be determined. He says, “Our research findings would help manufacturers of this innovation to be aware of and resolve these factors before they launch."

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Cultural factors, such as tradition, positively influence individual technology anxiety and desire to use ODAM.
  • The study indicates that individual cultural values of independence positively affect their innovativeness rather than their desire to use ODAM.
  • There are group differences in the influence of ambiguity intolerance on technology anxiety, desire, and personal innovativeness toward future use of ODAM.
  • Overall, the study suggests that individual cultural values play a significant role in influencing the future use of ODAM through psychological characteristics.

Practical business application

Kwarteng says, “Our findings provide business leaders, transport, and aviation manufacturers with relevant information on the ODAM acceptability snapshot. Specifically, our study informs these leaders of the need to provide massive marketing communication and education about ODAM, wherein consumers' concerns relating to cultural values and psychological characteristics such as technology anxiety will be significantly addressed.” He concludes by saying that a well thought-out integrated marketing communications strategy, using the study’s findings, will boost consumer confidence toward ODAM use in the near future.   

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12854

The conscientious corporate brand: Definition, operationalisation and application in a B2B context

Russel Abratt & Nicola Kleyn

Nicola Kleyn explains, “Executives are increasingly being asked to proactively shape environmental, social and governance best practice. The term conscientious corporate branding (CCB) has been used in academic literature, but the exact meaning of the term, and what firms need to do to build conscious corporate brands, have not been clearly identified.” She adds that the articles that have addressed CCB have all been in the context of consumer-focused brands. The research wanted to describe CCB, but specifically in a business-to-business (B2B) context, and how B2B brands can take active steps to ensure that stakeholders are part of corporate efforts to contribute to social and environmental sustainability.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The research defined a conscientious corporate brand and generated a framework that can be used to build brand equity through responsible business behaviour.
  • The authors were able to apply their findings by showcasing examples from B2B brands.

Practical business application

Klein says, “Building a CCB starts from within, when an organisation can articulate a purpose that shows how they will harness their core expertise for social and environmental benefit.” However, she says, “Words need to be backed up with ethical leadership that emphasises ethical behaviour across the organisation in the culture, policies, behaviours and control systems.” Building a CCB requires organisations to work with their stakeholders to develop and innovate across their value-chain activities. Businesses should not assume that stakeholders are aware of these efforts, and need to prioritise communication about their activities, as well as their positive impact, so that their activities are mirrored in stakeholder perceptions of their corporate brand.

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-10-2021-0468

Case study

Leading brand communication during crises: Covid-19 lockdown at Gautrain South Africa

Caren Scheepers, Michele Ruiters & Morris Mthombeni 

Michele Ruiters says, “Covid-19 presented a crisis that took business by surprise. The case shows how the Gautrain communication team responded to the unexpected crisis and communicated with their company and commuters throughout that period.” The case study highlights the kind of leadership that was required to keep the Gautrain brand in the forefront of commuters’ minds, even when they were not using the service.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Communication is an integral element in crises.
  • Our protagonist was an experienced communications leader. She had experience with crises during "normal" times, where her response was immediate and contextual.
  • One example highlighted was the collapse of the bridge over the M1 where Gautrain buses were offered to transport affected commuters. The team’s quick thinking positioned the brand as an empathic corporate citizen.
  • During Covid-19, the Gautrain was positioned as a caring brand that informed commuters about what they could expect, thereby reducing anxiety of customers.

Practical business application

Ruiters says, “The case teaches us that communication is the most important element of leadership. The Gautrain team was also agile and contextual in its responses. It was empowered to make swift decisions and to implement them with confidence. People were at the centre of the communication strategy.” She says that Gautrain focused on their staff working from home, their commuters and the communities around them. They also pivoted to new forms of communication that suited the context, using social media extensively and preparing for the return to work and travel period.

For the full paper go to: https://doi.org/10.1108/EEMCS-06-2022-0186

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