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Title: Leadership challenges of middle management at Transnet's Durban Container Terminal
Authors: Nxasana, Nomalungelo Zola 
Issue Date: Aug-2019
Transnet Port Terminals’ Durban Container Terminal (DCT) is the largest and busiest container terminal in Africa and the fifth largest terminal in the southern hemisphere based on container throughput. Middle Managers (MMs) at the DCT are responsible for ensuring that this leviathan of port trade stays afloat and operates optimally. By virtue of their position, MMs find themselves both followers (taking directions from senior managers) and leaders (overseeing subordinates). Striking a balance between these two roles is often associated with many challenges and tremendous amounts of stress. This study aimed to identify some of the structures in place at the DCT geared towards empowering MMs at the DCT cope with the leadership demands of their duties. The research focused on the formal leadership development programmes offered by Transnet Port Terminals and evaluated its effectiveness in enhancing the MM as leader. To understand MMs’ concerns better, a holistic assessment was conducted on the environment and organisational culture in which MMs operated. The specific objectives of the study were to investigate DCT’s organisational culture, to identify the development structures in place for grooming MMs for leadership, to investigate the effectiveness of developmental programmes in enhancing MMs leadership; and to explore the receptiveness of subordinates towards MMs’ leadership. The present study is a descriptive study that used the probability random sampling technique as the results were intended to be generalizable over the entire MM population at Transnet’s DCT. This method has been described as one of the best techniques for collecting data as it highly reflects the population of interest. Research data were collected by means of a self-administered structured questionnaire. Forty-seven invitations were sent to MMs, 35 accepted and were enrolled into the study (i.e. 74.5% participation rate). One of the main findings of the study indicated that the DCT had a dual organisational culture. Middle Managers thus found themselves working in an environment that was both hierarchical and developmental. Middle Managers had all attended at least one of the leadership development programmes offered by Transnet Port Terminals. Moderate monotonic correlations were found between understanding course material and its practical applications; and leadership enhancement. However, a weaker association was observed between course relevance and leadership development. It is also emerged that MMs and subordinates had good working relationships. The main limitation of the study was gaining access to the MMs. This was partially due to the conflicting shifting times. As such, it was not possible to gain the participation of a statistically representative sample of the MMs to generalise findings over the entire MM population at the DCT.
Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters in Management Sciences, Faculty of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology, 2019.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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