Gendered approach to managing change in organisations
: differences in the way men and women manage organisational change in Abuja, Nigeria

  • Jennifer Okolai

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Examining the impact of gender leadership differences on organisational change management outcomes in Nigeria, Africa was one of the main aims of this study. Existing literature reports that only one third (30 per cent) of change programmes in organisations meet the desired outcomes, thereby leaving 70 per cent of organisational change programmes failing to achieve anticipated expectations. Some scholars (e.g., Paton and Dempster, 2002) report that the gendered aspect of organisational change management has been largely ignored, and may be one of the contributing factors to organisational change programmes not meeting desired outcomes. Given the increasing rate of change implementations in organisations and the reported failure rate, this study reviews the current trends, strategies and approaches adopted by change leaders. Furthermore, it examines men and women’s differences in their approach to organisational change management in Nigeria, and the impact that this might have on organisational change management outcomes. This research was undertaken in order to identify and recommend strategies that will assist with successfully managing change programmes in organisations.

Qualitative research methods through the use of 40 semi-structured interviews were conducted in five organisations (one federal medical health centre, two banking organisations and two government parastatal/ministries). Analytical tools including inductive content analysis, descriptive data analysis, thematic template and cross-case analysis were used to analyse the obtained data. The results show that there may be some differences in the way that men and women approach and manage change scenarios in organisations, which may have some potential impacts on OCM outcomes. However, certain factors appear to affect the observed leadership behaviour and adopted styles. Firstly, leaders’ behaviour and choice of leadership style is influenced by national and sector culture, therefore some of the leaders are unable to adopt their preferred way of approaching and managing the implemented changes as they have to conform to organisational set principles in managing the change programmes. Secondly, the results further show that leaders’ leadership behaviour and style is influenced by the gender and behaviour of the followers. Thirdly, gender leadership differences emerge as a result of leaders’ age and personality, and not necessarily because of their gender or sex.

In summary, both men and women may bring intrinsic benefits to the management of organisational change programmes, and these may have a significant and positive impact on the outcome of organisational change programmes. This is based on the perspective of the larger sample of this study’s respondents and some existing views in the literature. This study suggests a gender-inclusive methodology developed from the empirical findings of this study and existing literature, which provides comprehensive guideline on how organisational change programmes can be approached and managed from a more gender-inclusive perspective. The results from the present study raise many interesting issues for both the academic community and practising managers and agents. This is the first study of its kind that has looked at the impact of gender leadership differences on organisational change management outcome in developing countries like Nigeria.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorJim Stewart (Supervisor), Kirsten Stevens (Supervisor) & Randhir Auluck (Supervisor)


  • Organizational change
  • Management styles and communication
  • Leadership in women
  • Women executives

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