Tales of challenge and resolution: narratives of women middle managers in the South African public service

Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi, Tinashe Chuchu, Eugine Tafadzwa Maziriri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the challenges and resolution tactics of women middle managers in the South African public service. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative research approach using semi-structured interviews was used as a data collection technique. Narrative analysis was used with a sample of 20 women middle managers working within the South African public service. Findings: Narratives of challenges faced by women middle managers in the South African public service included relational issues, with a subtle undermining of women managers, challenges rooted within the socio-cultural milieu – perversely undermining the experience of being a manager and challenges stemming from public service in general such as corruption, in turn, questioning the ability of women managers to handle such. In addressing these challenges, the women middle managers exercised three individual performative actions in response to the identified challenges. These include using direct confrontation, relying on networks for guidance and relying on indirect confrontation. Research limitations/implications: Sample size challenges feature as a notable limitation including the research being conducted in only one political province of South Africa. Caution should be exercised when seeking to generalise the findings to other contexts. Practical implications: Understanding the challenges and resolution tactics of women middle managers can be a useful precursor to management development interventions. Originality/value: The study answers call for more processual career and management development studies that help understand not only challenges but also resolution strategies. This study illustrates both the difficulty of this and ensures opportunity for the advancement of women in management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-250
Number of pages16
JournalGender in Management
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Challenges
  • Middle managers
  • Narratives
  • Public service
  • Resolutions
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)

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