Exploring the role of servant leadership in Nigerian private sector companies.

  • Chimkwanum Okecha

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Research on leadership has a long tradition, but research that purely reflects African perspectives of leadership is yet to witness rapid growth. Within this context, the aim of this study is to explore and propose a culture-fit theoretical model that provides a good understanding of leadership in the Nigerian private sector. Considering the vastness of the leadership phenomenon, the research chose to investigate a leadership theory known as Servant Leadership that has gained wide research attention in most cultures, except Africa. To achieve this aim, this research attempts to investigate the extent to which servant leadership characteristics and personal leader traits influence employees’ perceptions of leadership effectiveness in Nigerian private sector companies. Having done this, it would then examine the effects of demographic variables on the application of servant leadership as a means of enhancing job satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviour in Nigerian private sector companies within the scope of the effects of culture. This study adopted a mixed methods approach. A questionnaire survey was conducted, and data were collected from 285 employees of private sector companies. In addition, 20 business leaders were interviewed. In this study, data were quantitatively analysed with the use of the statistical software of SPSS version 23. The findings suggest servant leadership characteristics as a predictor of leadership effectiveness, a positive
relationship between the employee demographic variables of gender, age, work experience and staff positions to job satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviour. This study found cultures of enforcement and compliance, in practice, yet the model shows how a re-enactment of the traditional African value systems could lead to servant leadership practice in Nigerian private sector companies. The key contribution of this
study is that this is the first study that develops a culture-fit theoretical model exploring the role of servant leadership in Nigerian private sector. It also increases understanding of the relationships between servant leadership characteristics, job satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviour, and culture in relation to Nigeria. The positive implication of this research is that it would lead to a renaissance of leadership research in Africa as it would inform the academic body of knowledge and international researchers on Africa’s leadership perspectives. The model could also be used as a learning platform for business students on leadership in Africa. This study would help re-orientate organisational leaders in Africa, foreign investors and labour policy makers in Nigeria.
Date of Award26 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMohamed Branine (Supervisor) & Nikolai Mouraviev (Supervisor)


  • Leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Culture
  • Employee performance
  • Job satisfaction
  • Organisational citizenship Behaviour
  • Africa
  • Private sector

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