The impact of organisational structures on service delivery : a case study of the uMgungundlovu District Municipality

Mlotshwa, Sibongile G. (2007-03)

Thesis (MPA (School of Public Management and Planning))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


The uMgungundlovu District Municipality is one of the ten district municipalities of the KwaZulu-Natal Province which was formed after the disestablishment of the Indlovu Regional Council in the year 2000. This Municipality has within it seven local municipalities that have varying capacity in terms of service provision. The thesis investigates how the evolution of the uMgungundlovu District Municipality’s organisational structure has impacted on the Municipality’s service delivery over the past eight years. The investigated problem is that the Municipality and its predecessor have never reviewed their organisational structures, while their functions, leadership and staff complement have changed over the past eight years. The purpose of the study was to address a practical problem at the Municipality, with the intention to throw some light on the impact of organisational structures on service delivery, and possibly suggest some solutions for the Municipality to implement. The investigation focuses on the challenges faced by the Technical Department, as a line-function department, in their efforts to deliver services to the public. The exploration begins with an analysis of the structure that populated the erstwhile Indlovu Regional Council, and follows through to the structure of the current Municipality. The investigation has been done through the consultation of documentation of the Municipality as well as interviewing staff and management of the Municipality. The staff who were interviewed included technical staff who were employed during the reign of the Regional Council, as well as technical staff who joined the organisation once it had become the District Municipality. In addition, Human Resources staff, performance management staff, the staff union representative and general staff were also interviewed. The focus of the study excludes political influences on the problem of the Municipality due to the sensitivity of this issue. However, responses from the interviews that relate to the role of political principals of the Municipality have been discussed to illustrate the necessary points. The thesis draws on relevant theories, legislation and policies to form the basis for the arguments that are put forward. The legislation and policies used include national, provincial and local government legislation and policies that guide the functioning of municipalities. One of the main findings of the investigation is that the staff and management do not have the same understanding of organisational structures or of their functions. The management understand that organisational structures need to be done with all staff of the organisation and that the structure should be informed by the organisational strategy to ensure that all plans that are followed thereafter assist with the implementation of the organisational strategy; the Integrated Development Strategy. The staff, on the other hand, owing to their exclusion from the relevant organisational structuring and design processes, believes that their work is separate from the organisational strategy. Furthermore, the staff argued that the formulation and implementation of the organisational strategy is the responsibility of the management and they, as low-level staff, have to focus on their ‘normal work’. One of the limitations to the study is that one of the senior managers that was going to be part of the study group resigned before the interviews were conducted. It is submitted that this did not substantially alter the conclusions of the thesis because the Municipal Manager, as the manager of the senior manager and as the Chief Information Officer and Accounting Officer, was available for the interview and has provided the required information. The thesis concludes that the Municipality’s service delivery efforts can only be efficient and sustainable if the organisation ensures that its structure is informed by its strategy, and that these are both reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that this is done in an up-to-date manner.

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