Work value change in South Africa : its nature, direction and distribution between 1990 and 2001

Steyn, Carly (2002-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Recent literature on values suggests that advanced, industrial societies are displaying a marked shift away from traditional values that stress material prosperity, physical and economic security towards values that are more expressive of individual freedom, autonomy and growth. According to Inglehart, forces of modernisation and globalisation have initiated a number of systemic level changes, that have ushered in processes of objective and subjective individualisation, dramatically altering the nature and structure of human value orientations and societal norms. Work values, as expressions of general life values in the work context, are no exception to this process. In the new world of work, intrinsic work values that stress personal growth, development and self-determination should gradually replace extrinsic work values such as good pay, job security and status. An understanding of the nature, direction and distribution of such value change could prove invaluable to the organizational practitioner and policy maker, since work values playa pivotal role in shaping organisational structure, process and policy. According to Inglehart, a number of developing countries are displaying similar shifts towards individualised values. Although classified as a middle-income, developing economy, South Africa has undergone a number of prolific economic, political and cultural changes over the last decade that would undoubtedly have altered the nature, direction and distribution of work values in the country. It is in the light of these political, economic and cultural developments that the current study embarked on an analysis of the nature, direction and distribution of work value change in South Africa between 1990 and 2001. The analysis was informed by the proposition that the work values of South Africans citizens should reflect a shift in the direction of individualised work values between 1990 and 2001. South Africans have, however, been exposed to and socialized within vastly different social, economic and political environments. The study has therefore taken cognisance of the fact that work value change in South Africa should reflect the stark cleavages and differences that exist within the population, and attempted to plot the differences in the nature and direction of work values between the various social categories defined by race, gender, educational and occupational level. The secondary analysis of survey data from the South African components of the 1990, 1995 and 2001 World Values Survey was performed in order to fulfil the objectives of the study. Work values of South African citizens were measured in terms of four dimensions, namely work centrality; work values relating to the distribution of power in the organization; work values relating to work preferences; and work values relating to authority systems in the workplace. Use was made of simple uni-variate and bi-variate analysis, as well as the comparison of means where appropriate. The results of the analysis suggest that work values relating to work centrality and the distribution of power in the organisation have become increasingly individualised. Work values relating to work preferences and authority have, however, displayed a trend in opposition to individualisation. Comparisons of work value change across the various sub-groups of the population reflect the changing economic, social and political landscape of South Africa. The data suggests that as various sub-groups of the population are exposed to the systemic level changes characteristic of the new South Africa, traditional value differences informed by race, gender, educational and occupational level will be gradually transformed and replaced by new value patterns untainted by the inequalities of the apartheid era. The analysis concludes by examining a number of explanations for the value changes described, and attempts to infer implications for the formulation and implementation of workplace policy and practice in South Africa. The high and increasing levels of unemployment and the increasing participation of women and previously excluded racial groupings into the South African labour market have increased perceptions of job insecurity in South Africa and have resulted in an expanding number of South Africans placing increased emphasis on traditional work preferences and systems of authority. Should this trend persist, the development of individualised work values will continue to be hindered, rendering the South African business environment less competitive and increasingly fraught with high levels of distrust and uncertainty. We suggest, therefore, that human resource practitioners and policy makers embark on the challenging task of reframing individual perceptions surrounding the meaning of work in South Africa, so as to better prepare South Africans for the challenges brought about by the new world of work

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Onlangse literatuur oor waardes dui daarop dat vooruitstrewende industriële gemeenskappe 'n merkbare verskuiwing toon weg van tradisionele waardes wat materialistiese welvaart, tasbare en ekonomiese sekuriteit beklemtoon, na waardes wat groter klem lê op individuele vryheid, outonomie en ontwikkeling. Volgens Inglehart het kragte van modernisering en globalisering 'n aantal sistemiese veranderinge teweeg gebring wat op hul beurt prossesse van objektiewe en subjektiewe individualisasie ingelei het en wat aanleiding gegee het tot 'n dramatiese verandering in die aard en struktuur van menslike waarde-orientasies en gemeenskapsnorme. Werkwaardes as uitdrukking van algemene lewenswaardes in die werkkonteks is nie 'n uitsondering in die proses nie. In die nuwe wêreld van werk behoort intrinsieke waardes wat persoonlike groei, ontwikkeling en selfbeskikking beklemtoon, geleidelik ekstrinsieke waardes soos goeie besoldiging, werksekuriteit en status te vervang. 'n Begrip van die aard, rigting en verspreiding van sodanige waarde-verandering kan van onskatbare waarde wees vir die organisatoriese praktisyn en beleidmaker aangesien werkswaardes 'n sentrale rol speel in die vorming van organisatoriese struktuur, prosesse en beleid. Volgens Inglehart vertoon 'n aantalontwikkelende lande 'n soortgelyke verskuiwing na geïndividualiseerde waardes. Alhoewel Suid-Afrika as 'n middel inkomste ontwikkelende ekonomie geklassifiseer word, het dit die afgelope dekade 'n verskeidenheid van ekonomiese, politieke en kulturele veranderinge ondergaan wat ongetwyfeld die aard, rigting en verspreiding van werkswaardes beïnvloed het. Met hierdie politieke, ekonomiese and kulturele ontwikkelinge as agtergrond, onderneem hierdie studie 'n analise van die aard, rigting en verspreiding van die verandering in werkswaardes in Suid-Afrika tussen 1990 en 2001. Die analise is in die veronderstelling dat die werkswaardes van die Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap 'n verskuiwing in die rigting van geïndividualiseerde werkswaardes sal weerspieël tussen 1990 en 2001. Suid-Afrikaners is egter blootgestel aan verskillende sosiale, ekonomiese en politieke omgewings. Die studie neem dus kennis van die feit dat werkswaarde-veranderinge in Suid- Afrika die skeiding en verskille wat voorgekom het in die bevolking sal weerspieël en poog om die verskille in die aard en rigting van werkswaardes te demonstreer tussen die verskillende kategorieë gedefinieer volgens ras, geslag, opvoedings- en beroepsvlak. Die sekondêre analise van opname data van die Suid Afrikaanse komponente van die 1990, 1995 en 2001 "World Values Survey" is ontleed ten einde uitvoering te gee aan die doelstellings van die studie. Werkwaardes van Suid-Afrikaners is gemeet aan die hand van vier dimensies, nl. werksentraliteit; werkswaardes wat verband hou met die verspreiding van mag in die organisasie; werkswaardes wat verband hou met werksvoorkeure, en werkswaardes wat gerig is op gesagstelsels in die werkplek. Gebruik is gemaak van enkelvariansie en dubbelvariansie analise asook die vergelyking van middelpunt, waar van toepassing. Die resultate van die ondersoek dui daarop dat werkswaardes wat verband hou met werksentraliteit en die verspreiding van mag in die organisasie toenemend geïndividualiseerd geraak het. Werkswaardes verwant aan werksvoorkeure en gesag demonstreer egter 'n duidelike neiging in stryd met individualisasie. Vergelyking van werkswaarde-veranderinge oor die verskillende sub-groepe van die bevolking weerspieël die veranderende ekonomiese, sosiale en politieke landskap van Suid-Afrika. Die data dui aan dat soos verskillende sub-groepe van die bevolking blootgestel word aan die sistemiese-vlak veranderings eie aan die nuwe Suid-Afrika, tradisionele waarde-verskille as gevolg van ras, geslag, opvoeding- en beroepsvlak, geleidelik sal verander en vervang word deur nuwe waarde-oriëntasies onbevlek deur die ongelykhede van die apartheidsera. Die analise sluit af deur 'n aantal verduidelikings vir die waarde-veranderings te ondersoek en poog om implikasies af te lei vir die formulering en implementering vir werkplekbeleid en praktyk in Suid-Afrika. Die hoë en steeds toenemende vlakke van werkloosheid, die toenemende toetrede van vrouens en voorheen benadeelde rassegroeperings tot die Suid Afrikaanse arbeidsmark het die persepsie van lae werksekuriteit in Suid-Afrika verhoog en het tot gevolg dat 'n toenemende aantal Suid-Afrikaners groter klem plaas op tradisionele werksvoorkeure en sisteme van gesag. Sou die tendens voortduur, sal dit die ontwikkeling van geïndividualiseerde werkswaardes belemmer, wat tot gevolg sal hê dat die Suid-Afrikaanse besigheidsomgewing minder kompeterend sal wees, met toenemende vlakke van wantroue en onsekerheid. Ek stel dus voor dat menslike hulpbron praktisyns en beleidsmakers begin met die uitdagende taak om individuele persepsies te beïnvloed met betrekking tot die betekenis van werk in Suid-Afrika ten einde Suid-Afrikaners beter voor te berei vir die uitdagings daargestel deur die nuwe wêreld van werk.

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