An analysis of the role of labour relations practitioners as change agents : a case study on the Department of Defence

Qwele, Gcobani (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2009-12)

Thesis (MPA (School of Public Management and Planning))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Chapter 1 outlines the purpose of the research, provides the background on the way in which LR matters are currently managed and handled in the Department of Defence (DOD), identifies the research problem, and outlines the research design and methodology. Chapter 2 explores the theoretical framework of the principles of labour relations and management of change. The chapter reveals that the principles of labour relations hold persons in management or supervisory positions responsible for managing LR matters, and suggests that LR practitioners should therefore be able to equip them with adequate skills and knowledge of the procedures for dealing with LR matters in the workplace. The chapter also reveals that the principles of the management of change suggest that the employees should be prepared for change; that a change agent, who should create an environment conducive to change through lobbying the support of persons in management and employees for the proposed change, should be identified; and that resistance to change should be identified at an early stage of the change process in order to eliminate it. Change agents are encouraged not to dominate the change process, but rather to facilitate it in order to ensure that the organisation and its employees drive the change process themselves. Chapter 3 explores the objectives of the LR support function as well as the content of LR practices in order to determine the extent to which LR practitioners can become change agents in the DOD. The chapter reveals that LR at grassroots level is practiced in the way that has resulted to conflicts and costly litigations. In this chapter the regulatory framework and procedures that impede LR practitioners from becoming change agents are also analysed. Chapter 4 covers the data collection process and the analysis thereof. The data reveals that the LR structure at grassroots level is not conducive for the professional delivery of enhanced LR services; that the target group does not have access to adequate resources that would enable them to execute their functions; and that empowerment programmes are implemented to equip the target group with adequate qualifications, skills and or knowledge to be able to render enhanced LR services. The main findings were that guidance is lacking to ensure that LR systems, structures and processes at grassroots level are in place, to ensure that LR matters are managed and handled in a fair and responsible way; to ensure that LR staff with adequate competences to render LR services is appointed; and to ensure that the LR department is active enough and lead the execution of enhanced LR services. In Chapter 5 the main findings are analysed and it is concluded that LR practitioners are unable to become change agents if LR systems, structures and processes are not in place. It is encouraged that LR practitioners should form a cohesive but diverse team that is able to render enhanced LR services, and that the LR department should take a leading role. It is recommended that a study be conducted to determine overarching LR strategy that would guide the establishment of LR systems, the determination of LR structure and processes for dealing with LR matters, and the empowerment programmes for ensuring the professional delivery of enhanced LR services.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoofstuk 1 skets die doel van die navorsing en verskaf agtergrond oor die manier waarop arbeidsverhoudinge tans in die Departement van Verdediging bestuur en hanteer word. In hierdie hoofstuk word die navorsingsprobleem ook geïdentifiseer en die navorsingsontwerp en -metodologie uitgestippel. Hoofstuk 2 ondersoek die teoretiese raamwerk van arbeidsverhoudingbeginsels en die bestuur van verandering. Die hoofstuk openbaar dat die beginsels van arbeidsverhoudinge persone in bestuurs- of toesighoudende posisies verantwoordelik hou vir die bestuur van arbeidsverhoudingkwessies. Daar word voorgestel dat arbeidsverhoudingpraktisyns daarom in staat moet wees om hierdie persone toe te rus met voldoende vaardighede en kennis van die prosedures vir die hantering van arbeidsverhoudingkwessies in die werkplek. Die hoofstuk openbaar ook dat die beginsels van die bestuur van verandering aandui dat werknemers op verandering voorbereid moet wees en dat ’n veranderingsagent geïdentifiseer moet word. Só ’n agent moet ’n atmosfeer skep wat bevorderlik vir verandering is deur steun vir die voorgestelde verandering van persone in bestuur en werknemers te werf. Verder moet weerstand teen verandering in ’n vroeë stadium in die veranderingsproses vasgestel word om dit sodoende uit te skakel. Veranderingsagente word aangemoedig om nie die veranderingsproses te oorheers nie, maar eerder te vergemaklik om te verseker dat die instelling en sy werknemers die veranderingsproses self dryf. Hoofstuk 3 ondersoek die teikens van die arbeidsverhoudingsteunfunksie asook die inhoud van arbeidsverhoudingpraktyke om te bepaal tot watter mate arbeidsverhoudingpraktisyns veranderingsagente in die Departement van Verdediging kan word. Hierdie hoofstuk onthul dat arbeidsverhoudinge op grondvlak op ’n manier beoefen word wat reeds tot konflik en duur litigasies gelei het. In hierdie hoofstuk word die regulerende raamwerk en prosedures geanaliseer wat arbeidsverhoudingpraktisyns verhinder om veranderingsagente te word. Hoofstuk 4 dek die data-insamelingsproses en analise van hierdie proses. Die data onthul dat die arbeidsverhoudingstruktuur op grondvlak nie bevorderlik is vir die professionele lewering van verbeterde arbeidsverhoudingdienste nie, en dat die teikengroep nie toegang tot voldoende bronne het wat hulle in staat sou stel om hulle funksies uit te voer nie. Die data openbaar verder dat bemagtigingsprogramme toegepas word om die teikengroep met voldoende opleiding, vaardighede en/of kennis toe te rus om verbeterde arbeidsverhoudingdienste te lewer. Die hoofbevinding was dat daar gebrekkige leiding is om te verseker dat arbeidsverhoudingstelsels, -strukture en -prosesse op grondvlak gereed is; dat arbeidsverhoudingkwessies op ’n regverdige en verantwoordelike manier bestuur en hanteer word; dat arbeidsverhoudingpersoneel met voldoende bevoegdhede aangestel word om arbeidsverhoudingdienste te lewer, en dat die arbeidsverhoudingdepartement aktief genoeg is en die voortou neem in die uitvoering van verbeterde arbeidsverhoudingdienste. In hoofstuk 5 word die hoofbevindinge geanaliseer en die gevolgtrekking gemaak dat arbeidsverhoudingpraktisyns nie in staat is om veranderingsagente te word indien arbeidsverhoudingstelsels, -strukture en -prosesse nie gereed is nie. Arbeidsverhoudingpraktisyns word aangemoedig om ’n verenigde maar diverse span te vorm wat verbeterde arbeidsverhoudingdienste kan bied en die arbeidsverhoudingdepartement word aangemoedig om ’n leidende rol in hierdie verband te speel. Daar word aanbeveel dat ’n studie gedoen word om ’n oorkoepelende arbeidsverhoudingstrategie vas te stel wat as riglyn kan dien vir die stigting van arbeidsverhoudingstelsels, die bepaling van arbeidsverhoudingstruktuur en prosesse om met arbeidsverhoudingkwessies om te gaan, en bemagtigingsprogramme om te verseker dat verbeterde arbeidsverhoudingdienste professioneel gelewer word.

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