oa Journal of Contemporary Management - Innovative leadership in South African manufacturing small medium enterprises within KwaZulu-Natal

Volume 16 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1815-7440



Rapid economic growth, poverty alleviation, as well as formal and informal employment are dependent on and subjected to small businesses. These small businesses have been credited as the spine of a country with the intentions and projections of developing and becoming a recognised, economically stable nation. In South Africa (SA), research indicates formal Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for 98.5% of the number of formal businesses in the economy, however, the formal SME sector only accounts for 28% of the country’s jobs, creating concern as it should be 60-70%, based on international trends. The purpose of the study is to examine innovative leadership in the South African SME manufacturing sector, within the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). A quantitative research approach was adopted, while using a non-probability convenience sampling technique to achieve a sample size of 384. Data were collected using a self-administered, closed-ended questionnaire, with predetermined answers scaled using a 5-point Likert scale, while factor analysis was conducted using SPSS (version 23.0). The study found innovation in leadership at SMEs in the KZN manufacturing sector hampered by business characteristics and leadership abilities, identifying critical factors that interfere with leadership being innovative, insofar as technical skills, lack of government financial assistance, educated employees, and government barriers, as well as ICT advancement costs, are concerned. The study recommends that, to facilitate innovation by leadership, SMEs in the KZN manufacturing sector should invest in ICT and engage educated employees, in addition to continuously capacitating leadership with field-related skills. A further recommendation is that the government needs to develop, implement and maintain a functional system to alleviate prohibitive government regulations that inhibit business innovation, development and sustainable growth of the country’s SMEs, specifically in the manufacturing sector.

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