University of Oulu

Alo, O., Arslan, A., Tian, A.Y. and Pereira, V. (2023), "Exploring the limits of mindfulness during the COVID-19 pandemic: qualitative evidence from African context", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Exploring the limits of mindfulness during the COVID-19 pandemic : qualitative evidence from African context

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Author: Alo, Obinna1; Arslan, Ahmad2; Tian, Anna Yumiao3;
Organizations: 1Sunderland Business School, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK
2Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Strategic Management and Organisation, International Business School Suzhou (IBSS), Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China
4NEOMA Business School, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-04-11


Purpose: This paper is one of the first studies to examine specificities, including limits of mindfulness at work in an African organisational context, whilst dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It specifically addresses the role of organisational and managerial support systems in restoring employee wellbeing, social connectedness and attachment to their organisations, in order to overcome the exclusion caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach: The study uses a qualitative research methodology that includes interviews as the main data source. The sample comprises of 20 entrepreneurs (organisational leaders) from Ghana and Nigeria.

Findings: The authors found that COVID-19-induced worries restricted the practice of mindfulness, and this was prevalent at the peak of the pandemic, particularly due to very tough economic conditions caused by reduction in salaries, and intensified by pre-existing general economic and social insecurities, and institutional voids in Africa. This aspect further resulted in lack of engagement and lack of commitment, which affected overall team performance and restricted employees’ mindfulness at work. Hence, quietness by employees even though can be linked to mindfulness was linked to larger psychological stress that they were facing. The authors also found leaders/manager’s emotional intelligence, social skills and organisational support systems to be helpful in such circumstances. However, their effectiveness varied among the cases.

Originality/value: This paper is one of the first studies to establish a link between the COVID-19 pandemic and mindfulness limitations. Moreover, it is a pioneering study specifically highlighting the damaging impact of COVID-19-induced concerns on leader–member exchange (LMX) and team–member exchange (TMX) relationships, particularly in the African context. It further brings in a unique discussion on the mitigating mechanisms of such COVID-19-induced concerns in organisations and highlights the roles of manager’s/leader’s emotional intelligence, social skills and supportive intervention patterns. Finally, the authors offer an in-depth assessment of the effectiveness of organisational interventions and supportive relational systems in restoring social connectedness following a social exclusion caused by COVID-19-induced worries.

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Series: Journal of managerial psychology
ISSN: 0268-3946
ISSN-E: 1758-7778
ISSN-L: 0268-3946
Issue: Online first
DOI: 10.1108/jmp-03-2022-0124
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2023, Obinna Alo, Ahmad Arslan, Anna Yumiao Tian and Vijay Pereira. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at