e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 29 (S1) 2021 / JSSH(S)-1487-2021


Assessing the Challenges of Local Leaders in Rural Community Development: A Qualitative Study in Malaysia

Aizuddin Md Rami, Faiq Aziz, Zeinab Zaremohzzabieh and Abdullah Ibrahim

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue S1, December 2021


Keywords: Community leadership, challenges, local leader, rural development, Malaysia

Published on: 14 April 2021

In Malaysia, the ongoing reform at the local government level continues to shape the role of local leaders in rural development. This study aims to identify several challenges faced by rural community leaders and to suggest some ways in which rural leaders can weather and benefit from them. This qualitative study, which used content analysis, employed purposive sampling to firstly select the interviewee, and then was sustained throughout until data saturation. The respondents were from a 60-member cohort from Malaysia’s Villages Development and Safety Committee who held the positions of chairpersons and ordinary members. For data collection and analysis, this study used semi-structured interviews and an inductive approach respectively. The data analysis led to the development of eight main themes of “difficulty in decision making”, “strengthening external network”, “disseminating the precise information”, “Comprehensive participation of the community members”, “preparing an efficient work plan”, “overlapping functions of government agencies”, “political control”, and “the lack of facilities and infrastructure”. Identifying these challenges for rural community leaders will help the local government take proactive action on community leadership in terms of social capital, networking, communication, trust creation, and leadership qualities. Going forward, the government should place serious attention to developing the potential and skills of local leaders as a reward for their profound commitment to developing their community.

  • Ajala, A. R. T., & Adebanjo Rauf, O. (2019). The role of community leaders in actualisation of community road development project. African Scholar Publications & Research International, 15(2), 237–247.

  • Ajayi, R., & Otuya, N. (2006). Women’s participation in self-help community development projects in Ndokwa agricultural zone of Delta State, Nigeria. Community Development Journal, 41(2), 189–209. doi: 10.1093/cdj/bsi044

  • Aziz, F., Md Rami, A., Razali, F., & Mahadi, N. (2020). The influence of leadership style towards technology acceptance in organization. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(7s), 218-225.

  • Beaulieu, L. J. (2019). The rural South in crisis: Challenges for the future. Routledge.

  • Cibangu, S. K., & Hepworth, M. (2016). The uses of phenomenology and phenomenography: A critical review. Library & Information Science Research, 38(2), 148–160. doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2016.05.001

  • Crosby, B. C., & Bryson, J. M. (2005). Leadership for the common good: Tackling public problems in a shared-power world (Vol. 264). John Wiley & Sons.

  • Davenport, A., & Mattson, K. (2018). Collaborative leadership as a catalyst for change. Knowledge Quest, 46(3), 14–21.

  • Flora, C. B., Flora, J., & Fey, S. (2004). Rural communities: Legacies and change. Westview Press.

  • Garrett, L. E., Spreitzer, G. M., & Bacevice, P. A. (2017). Co-constructing a sense of community at work: The emergence of community in coworking spaces. Organization Studies, 38(6), 821–842. doi: 10.1177/0170840616685354

  • Goeppinger, A. (2002). The fallacies of our reality: A deconstructive look at community and leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 5(1), 77–83. doi: 10.1080/13603120110090689

  • Gratton, C., & Jones, I. (2014). Research methods for sports studies. Routledge.

  • Green, J., & Thorogood, N. (2018). Qualitative methods for health research (4th Ed.). London: SAGE.

  • Hazy, J. K., Goldstein, J., & Lichtenstein, B. B. (2007). Complex systems leadership theory: New perspectives from complexity science on social and organizational effectiveness. ISCE Publication.

  • Horlings, L. G., Roep, D., & Wellbrock, W. (2018). The role of leadership in place-based development and building institutional arrangements. Local Economy, 33(3), 245–268. doi: 10.1177/0269094218763050

  • Hou, C., & Wu, H. (2020). Rescuer, decision maker, and breadwinner: Women’s predominant leadership across the post-Wenchuan earthquake efforts in rural areas, Sichuan, China. Safety Science, 125, 104623. doi: 10.1016/j.ssci.2020.104623

  • Kirk, P., & Shutte, A. M. (2004). Community leadership development. Community Development Journal, 39(3), 234–251.

  • Kumpulainen, K., & Soini, K. (2019). How do community development activities affect the construction of rural places? A case study from Finland. Sociologia Ruralis, 59(2), 294–313.

  • Lamm, K. W., Carter, H. S., Lamm, A. J., & Lindsey, A. B. (2017). Community leadership: A theory-based model. Journal of Leadership Education, 16(3), 118–133. doi: 10.12806/v16/i3/t2

  • Lincoln, Y. G., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry (Vol. 16). Sage.

  • Liu, S., & Hallinger, P. (2018). Teacher development in rural China: How ineffective school leadership fails to make a difference. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 21(6), 633–650.

  • Madsen, W., O’Mullan, C., & Keen-Dyer, H. (2014). Learning and leadership: Evaluation of an Australian rural leadership program. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 54(1), 30–42.

  • Mamat, N., Rami, A., Abdullah, R., Amat Simin, M. H., & Hashim, S. S. (2019). Malay language teaching and learning strategies among orang asli students in Terengganu. International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering, 8(1C2), 1158-1161.

  • Maharjan, K. L. (2017). Rural community leadership in decentralization. In Decentralization and rural development in Indonesia (pp. 99–110). Springer.

  • Musitha, M. E. (2020). Perceptions of South Africans on traditional leadership: A case of Limpopo province. African Identities, 18(4), 450-454. doi: 10.100/14725843.2020.1777840

  • Ngcobo, T., & Tikly, L. P. (2010). Key dimensions of effective leadership for change: A focus on township and rural schools in South Africa. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 38(2), 202–228. doi: 10.1177/1741143209356359

  • Nuttavuthisit, K., Jindahra, P., & Prasarnphanich, P. (2015). Participatory community development: Evidence from Thailand. Community Development Journal, 50(1), 55–70. doi: 10.1093/cdj/bsu002

  • Onitsuka, K., & Hoshino, S. (2018). Inter-community networks of rural leaders and key people: Case study on a rural revitalization program in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Journal of Rural Studies, 61, 123–136. doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.04.00

  • Oruonye, E. D. (2013). Grassroot democracy and the challenges of rural development in Nigeria: A case study of Bali local government area of Taraba State. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(1), 12–19.

  • Pigg, K. E. (1999). Community leadership and community theory: A practical synthesis. Community Development Society Journal, 30(2), 196–212. doi: 10.100/15575339909489721

  • Raelin, J. (2011). From leadership-as-practice to leaderful practice. Leadership, 7(2), 195–211. doi: 10.1177/174271501039480

  • Rami, A. A. M., Abdullah, R., & Ibrahim, A. (2016). The community leaders as a catalyst for rural community development in the state of Terengganu. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 6(12), 2222–6990.

  • Rami, A. M., Aziz, F., Razali, F., & Ibrahim, A. (2020a). Effective local leadership to a successful council in the state of Terengganu, Malaysia. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(7 Special Issue), 205-210.

  • Rami, A. M., Aziz, F., Razali, F., & Yusof, M. R. (2020b). Leadership and ICTs implementation for rural development. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(7 Special Issue), 531-535.

  • Rami, A. M., Simin, H., Abdullah, R., & Ibrahim, A. (2019). Community leader in enhancing rural economic growth in state of Terengganu, Malaysia. International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering, 8(2 Special Issue 11), 680-684.

  • Redmond, S. (2013). An explorative study on the connection between leadership skills, resilience and social support among youth [PhD Thesis]. National University of Ireland.

  • Ricketts, K. G., & Ladewig, H. (2008). A path analysis of community leadership within viable rural communities in Florida. Leadership, 4(2), 137–157. doi: 10.117/1742715008089635

  • Rodela, K. C., & Bertrand, M. (2018). Rethinking educational leadership in the margins: Youth, parent, and community leadership for equity and social justice. SAGE Publications.

  • Sabouripour, F., & Roslan, S. (2015). Resilience, optimism and social support among international students. Asian Social Science, 11(15), 159–170. doi: 10.5539/as.v11n15p159

  • Samuelsson, I. P., & Pramling, N. (2016). Variation theory of learning and developmental pedagogy: Two context-related models of learning grounded in phenomenography. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 60(3), 286–295. doi: 10.1080/00313831.2015.1120232

  • Seltzer, E., & Mahmoudi, D. (2012). Citizen participation, open innovation, and crowdsourcing: Challenges and opportunities for planning. Journal of Planning Literature, 28(1), 3–18. doi: 10.1177/088541221246911

  • Tantoh, H. B., & McKay, T. J. (2020). Rural self-empowerment: The case of small water supply management in Northwest, Cameroon. GeoJournal, 85(1), 159–171.

  • Taylor, S. J., Bogdan, R., & DeVault, M. (2015). Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. John Wiley & Sons.

  • Tinker-Walker, K. A., & Walker, J. D. (2020). Leadership concepts in manufacturing environments: A brief historical review and conclusion with recommendations for education and training of IO psychologists. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 13(1), 90–102. doi: 10.1017/iop.2020.1

  • Walker, A. (2008). The rural constitution and the everyday politics of elections in Northern Thailand. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 38(1), 84–105. doi: 10.100/00472330701651978

  • Wilson, G. A. (2012). Community resilience, globalization, and transitional pathways of decision-making. Geoforum, 43(6), 1218–1231.

  • Wilson, W. J. (2012). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. University of Chicago Press.

  • Wituk, S., Warren, M., Heiny, P., Clark, M. J., Power, C., & Meissen, G. (2003). Developing communities of leaders: Outcomes of a statewide initiative. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(4), 76–86. doi: 10.1177/107179190300900407

  • Worthy, S. L., Tyler-Mackey, C., Dyke, P. H., Monroe, P. A., & Welborn, R. (2016). Turning the Tide on Poverty: Perceptions of leaders and leadership in economically distressed communities. Turning the Tide on Poverty, 47(3), 322–340. doi: 10.4324/97813151129094

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Recent Articles