Original Research

Managerial Political competencies and the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises in South Africa

Nhamo Mashavira, Crispen Chipunza, Dennis Y. Dzansi
Acta Commercii | Vol 21, No 1 | a884 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v21i1.884 | © 2021 Nhamo Mashavira | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 June 2020 | Published: 31 March 2021

About the author(s)

Nhamo Mashavira, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Crispen Chipunza, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Dennis Y. Dzansi, Department of Business Support Studies, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Orientation: Research on managerial political competencies has progressed well in other organisational setups; but not so much in entrepreneurial ventures, yet literature documents the pivotal role played by political competencies in the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Research Purpose: This study intended to find the impact of managerial political competencies on the performance of SMEs as measured by both innovation and return on investment (ROI) in SMEs in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.

Motivation for the study: Regardless of the contribution done by SMEs in contemporary economies, and the fundamental role managerial political competencies play in sustaining these enterprises, no known study has been done among SMEs in South Africa.

Research design, approach and method: The study employed an ex post facto correlational design that adopted a purely quantitative approach. The sample comprised of 211 owner/managers in Gauteng Province. Descriptive statistics and Spearman’s correlation were used for data analysis.

Main findings: Owner/managers were found to be politically competent in the dimensions of social astuteness and networking abilities, but fared not so well on the apparent sincerity and interpersonal influence dimensions. It was also established that SMEs performed relatively better in terms of innovation compared to   ROI, although ROI had greater potential to respond to improvements in  the quality of managerial political competencies when compared to innovation . There was a statistically significant relationship between managerial political competencies and SME performance as measured by innovation and ROI.

Practical/managerial implications: It is recommended that managerial political competencies be augmented internally through deliberate human resource development initiatives in order to leverage on them. It is also recommended that support structures and agencies that assist owner/managers in competency development be augmented at both provincial and government levels.

Contribution/Value-add: The study attempts to fill the gap between research and practice regarding managerial political competencies in SMEs in South Africa.


political competencies; performance; SMEs; South Africa


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