Growth at the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa : power partnerships and policies.
Employees‟ perceptions regarding the role of powerful partners in developing the managerial leadership of small and recipient organisations are vital, given the research developments regarding partnerships. This research has focused on the power that governs the relationships between large and self-governing funding organisations and dependent recipient organisations. The emergence of developing managerial leadership, linked to powerful partnership systems, appears to be a vital field for research in the developed world. For instance, this is evident in the United States of America but not in Africa, especially in the sub-Saharan region. Partnership is simply conceived of as a relationship between one or more NGOs, and in such a relationship, power is understood as being one partner having the ability to influence another partner, or other partners, to do what they would otherwise not do. Intentional and observable power between organisations often results in a diverse and complex managerial leadership and organisational life for small and recipient organisations. In this regard, the recipient partner organisations striving for leadership, management- and organisational growth, and change, commonly struggle with internal and external power influences embedded in powerful partnerships. Sub-Saharan Africa‟s, especially South Africa‟s, development NGOs and funding partnerships are not an exception to this challenge. This dissertation is an embryonic qualitative but objective enquiry into managers‟ and employees‟ perceptions regarding the influences of donors and the University of KwaZulu-Natal on growth at the Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa. The research adopted the narrative and interpretive paradigm, combined with the qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. Three data collection methods were used: 1) archival; 2) face-to-face interviews; and 3) participant observation. The Sinomlando Centre is an organisation originally conceived as a research and community development entity, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. While existing within, and depending on the University, the Centre predominantly relies on international funding partnerships. This environment is solely driven by the founding director, who steers the organisation towards its full cognisance. It is this very environment that inspired the question of employees‟ perceptions regarding the influence of these powerful partnerships, in augmenting leadership and management at the Sinomlando Centre. This research project draws on library-, internet-, and archival searches to explore concepts pertaining to: systems and systems thinking; behaviour and learning in organisations; leadership and management development, and power and partnerships. This research harnesses the findings generated from the interviews and participant observation studies, with the academic studies linked to these concepts. This is done in order to discuss and highlight the fact that the employees at the Sinomlando Centre think and confirm that the donors, the Director, and the University, are all systems that influence their organisation. The research found that the University, the donors, and the leadership, are all system structures that limit the Sinomlando Centre‟s organisational and leadership growth. Thus, in consideration of the existence of the Sinomlando Centre within the University, the dependence on foreign funding partnerships, and the reliance on the Director, this dissertation concludes that developing managerial leadership can be possible only if the organisation considers: 1) re-positioning itself and self-organisation within its environment of existence; 2) openness to change-management; and 3) widening internal opportunities for managing powerful partnerships.