Laughter will most likely be the immediate reaction to the true story of a manager who decreed that under no circumstances should a leaf of tea be bought without his express authority. It so happened that when the tea supply ran out during his absence, the whole office went without tea for weeks. However, this is no laughing matter and one of the reasons why Botswana scored low marks in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report of 2014-15.
One of the questions that respondents in Botswana had to answer was: “In your country, how do you assess the willingness to delegate authority to subordinates? [1 = not willing at allÔÇösenior management takes all important decisions; 7 = very willingÔÇöauthority is mostly delegated to business unit heads and other lower-level managers]” The WEF considers willingness to delegate to be an element of business sophistication and the score that Botswana got (3.4) shows that the country leans towards the “not willing” category.
Botswana was matched against 143 countries and it came out in position 99. African Managers in South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia, Gambia, Ghana, Swaziland, Seychelles, Namibia, Madagascar, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Senegal Nigeria and Zimbabwe are more likely to delegate authority than those in Botswana.
Despite its many benefits (having more time and energy for the most important things; less clutter and less pressure; benefitting from others’ experience, wisdom, thoughts and perspectives; getting tasks done rather than adding them to the to-do list; and achieving results in less time), delegating does not appeal to some managers who feel compulsive need to be in control all the time. While minor, the tea example is symptomatic of wider administrative problem within both the public and private sector that slows down the pace at which business is conducted in the country.
However, Botswana managers are not the only ones who lack sophistication ÔÇô buyers also do. On a scale that measures buyer sophistication from making purchasing decisions solely on the basis of lowest prices (1) to a sophisticated analysis of performance attributes (7), Botswana buyers were given 2.9, making them the 112th least sophisticated in the survey sample.