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

Obinna Alo, Ahmad Arslan*, Anna Yumiao Tian, Vijay Pereira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Africa
  • COVID-19
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leader
  • Mindfulness
  • Organisational support systems
  • Relational support systems


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