The impact of the social values of Ubuntu on team effectiveness

Poovan, Negendhri (2006-03)

Thesis (MA (Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


When examining the diversity of South Africa’s workforce, the question arises, how can organisations and their leaders facilitate a better integration of this diverse workforce into effective teams? This thesis approaches this question in three different ways. Firstly, the African value system Ubuntu is examined, with a special focus on its core social values, which are: survival, solidarity spirit, compassion and respect/dignity as outlined in Mbigi’s collective finger’s theory. Secondly, the characteristics of team effectiveness such as knowledge, skills and abilities (K.S.A’s), cohesion, shared vision and mutual trust are focused on in order to provide an understanding of the functioning of teams. Thirdly, the positive impacts of the social values of Ubuntu on specific characteristics of team effectiveness are explained and the concept of values-based leadership as one possible approach to implement these values is presented. This thesis is based on research, which is qualitative in nature and uses the grounded theory method. In this study, 14 participants were asked to respond to open-ended questions on their opinion about what constitutes a good team and how they experienced Ubuntu in their work teams as well as communities. The interviews were analysed using the methods prescribed by the grounded theory. The canons of the grounded theory method enabled the researcher to generate a theory and to develop a model which explains how the social values of Ubuntu can have a positive impact on the characteristics of team effectiveness.

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