Original Research

Motivation sources and leadership styles among middle managers at a South African university

Crispen Chipunza, Lerato L. Matsumunyane
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a985 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.985 | © 2018 Crispen Chipunza, Lerato L. Matsumunyane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2017 | Published: 09 July 2018

About the author(s)

Crispen Chipunza, Department of Business Management, Central University of Technology, South Africa
Lerato L. Matsumunyane, Department of Business Management, Central University of Technology, South Africa

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Orientation: Leadership challenges have been evident in the South African higher education sector since 2004. Dealing with these challenges has focused more on external factors at top management level than on the possible contribution of intrinsic factors among other levels of institutional management.

Research purpose: The purpose of the research was to determine the relationship between motivation sources and the leadership styles of middle managers in a South African higher education institution.

Motivation for the study: The ongoing leadership challenges in the higher education sector in South Africa require not only strategies to deal with them at a national level but also academic efforts that focus on previously neglected areas, such as sources of leadership motivation.

Research design, approach and method: The population of the study consisted of 75 middle managers, comprising both academic and non-academic staff. A final sample size of 40, conveniently selected, was achieved. A quantitative research approach was employed using the case study method.

Main findings: Results showed a positive relationship between transformational leadership and intrinsic process motivation, self-concept internal motivation and goal internalisation motivation. A negative correlation was found between instrumental motivation and transactional leadership style.

Practical and managerial implications: Motivation sources could be used to explain leadership behaviour and assist in the selection and development of specific leadership styles for the different managerial levels within academic institutions through motivation profiling. Sources of motivation may provide one of many pieces of information to consider when making recruitment and leadership development decisions within institution.

Contribution or value added: This is the first study of its kind to investigate the two variables within a higher education context. The study makes an invaluable contribution to the broadening of existing knowledge and a scholarly understanding of leadership motivation and behaviour.


leadership; motivation; higher education institutions; middle managers


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