Leadership and performance: a South African public sector case study

Scott, Raymond Rudolf (2016-12)

Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Leaders in public sector departments in South Africa operate in an environment that is different from that in which private sector departments operate. They also have an array of challenges, but still they are expected to perform and deliver a public service that makes a positive contribution to the lives of the people that that they lead as well as the lives of the citizens they provide the service to. With the service delivery protests and the outcry from the South African public for public leaders to become more accountable and effective, the researcher became interested in the effect that leadership may or may not have on the performance of an organization. The Department of Environmental Affairs, Branch: Environmental Programmes (EP Branch) is used as a case study to explore the concepts of leadership and performance. The purpose of this study is to explore the possible effect leadership has on organizational performance at the EP Branch, coupled with an investigation into the challenges faced by the organization, whilst simultaneously aiming to find ideas to suggest how performance could be improved. Furthermore, the study attempts to identify a desired leadership style for improved performance at the EP Branch. A case study design and a methodology that include a descriptive survey, a desktop review, and interviews to collect primary and secondary data are employed to do the fieldwork. The methods used include a self-administered questionnaire, desk study of internal documents, and informal one-on-one meetings, used under each of the methodologies employed. The desk review and interviews are used to collect secondary data that is held by the organization, whilst the questionnaire is used to collect primary data by testing the knowledge and perceptions held by the research participants. A total of 19 out of the sample population of 22 senior managers participated in the survey. The responses to closed-ended questions on the survey questionnaire are analyzed by using Statistica 13, computer software used by Stellenbosch University’s online survey services, whilst the responses to open-ended questions are analyzed by using themes and summaries to explain and describe the response. The findings of the study show that leadership style does have an effect on organizational performance. However, the findings show that challenges faced by the organization can influence the performance capacity of the organization. Furthermore, the context in which the organization functions and in which the leader leads can also impact on the organization's overall performance. Lastly, the findings show that participative leadership as well as a combination of different leadership styles are mostly demonstrated at the EP Branch. These styles are found to be conducive to organizational performance. Owing to time constraints, the study was limited to only senior managers, thereby excluding the knowledge and perceptions held by junior and middle managers. Also, the employee’s personal performance was not taken into account as the focus was on the organization's overall performance. These limitations could possibly become future research projects.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Leiers in openbare sektor-departemente in Suid-Afrika werk in ’n omgewing wat verskil van privaatsektordepartemente. Hulle staar ook ’n versameling uitdagings in die gesig, maar steeds word daar van hulle verwag om te presteer en ’n openbare diens te lewer wat ’n positiewe bydrae tot die mense wat hulle lei se lewens maak, asook tot die lewens van die burgers aan wie hulle die diens lewer. Na aanleiding van die diensleweringsproteste en uitroep deur die Suid-Afrikaanse publiek vir openbare leiers om meer verantwoordbaar en effektief te wees, het die navorser geïnteresseerd geraak in die effek wat leierskap mag of nie mag hê op die prestasie van ’n organisasie nie. Die Departement van Omgewingsake, Tak: Omgewingsprogramme (OP Tak) is gebruik as gevallestudie om die verskynsels van leierskap en prestasie te ondersoek. Die doel van die studie is om die moontlike effek wat leierskap op organisasieprestasie in die OP Tak het, saam met ’n gepaardgaande ondersoek na die uitdagings wat die organisasie in die gesig staar, te ondersoek terwyl daar tegelykertyd na idees gesoek word om voor te stel hoe prestasie verbeter kan word. Die studie poog verder om die verlangde leierskapstyl vir verbeterde prestasie in die OP Tak te identifiseer. ’n Gevalliestudie-ontwerp en ’n metodologie wat ’n beskrywende opname, ’n lessenaarondersoek, en onderhoude insluit, is gebruik om die veldwerk te doen. Die instrumente wat gebruik is, sluit ’n self-geadministreerde vraelys, lessenaarstudie van interne dokumente, en informele een-tot-een onderhoude in wat as deel van elke metodologie aangewend is. Die lessenaarondersoek en onderhoude word gebruik om sekondêre data wat deur die organisasie gehou word te versamel, terwyl die vraelys gebruik word om primêre data te versamel deur die kennis en sienings van die deelnemers te toets. A totaal van 19 uit 22 senior bestuurders het aan die opname deelgeneem. Die reaksies op geslote-tipe vrae is deur Statistica 13 geanaliseer, rekenaarprogrammatuur wat deur die Universiteit Stellenbosch se aanlyn-opnamedienste gebruik word, terwyl die reaksies op oop-tipe vrae geanaliseer was deur temas en opsommings om die reaksie te verduidelik en te beskryf. Die studie toon dat leierskapstyl wel ’n effek het op organisasieprestasie. Die bevinding toon egter aan dat die uitdagings wat deur die organisasie in die gesig gestaar word die prestasiekapasiteit van die organisasie kan beïnvloed. Verder kan die konteks waarbinne die organisasie funksioneer en waarbinne die leier lei ook ’n impak op die organisasie se oorkoepelende prestasie hê. Laastens toon die bevindinge dat die OP Tak meestal deelnemende leierskap asook ’n kombinasie van leierskapstyle demonstreer. Hierdie style word as bevorderlik vir organisasieprestasie bevind. Weens tydbeperkings is die studie tot slegs senior bestuurders beperk en gevolglik is die kennis en sienings van junior en middelvlak-bestuurders uitgesluit. Verder is die werknemer se persoonlike prestasie nie in ag geneem nie, want die fokus was op die organisasie se oorkoepelende prestasie. Hierdie beperkings kan moontlik toekomstige navorsingsprojekte word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100158
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