Constraints and enabling factors affecting the implementation of affirmative action in an industry that is globalising : a study of the Durban automotive cluster.
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This study investigates prevailing factors that impede the implementation of affirmative action in the Durban Automotive Cluster. This study will enable DAC affiliates to determine their obstacles and challenges with respect to the implementation of affirmative action. The service provider of the DAC CB and M Analysts) will also be able to advise companies through their development programmes and recommend what has to be done in order to bring blacks on board. This study relied on primary data. In-depth interviews were conducted with the senior managers ofDAC affiliates using unstructured questionnaires. Secondary data from the DAC database was analysed to strengthen the qualitative data. The data focused on the distribution of different population groups across the levels of occupations. The aim of the study is not to generalise about affirmative action but to obtain more in-depth clarity on the research problem. The findings have established that the pool of technically qualified and experienced blacks is very small and hence they are in short supply in the market. A number of factors such as direct ownership and low turnover of staff were raised as one of the aspects that hinder affirmative action. Constraints such as attitudes of white middle management appeared to have been addressed by these companies. The findings also clarified the role of human resources department in driving affirmative action. In most companies, the human resources department is part and parcel of management and actively involved in affirmative action. The study discovered that poaching also arises as a result of the shortage of skilled blacks. Retention of black employees is a problem for the majority of the companies. Despite these shortcomings, this study revealed that proper channels such as training, development and mentoring were followed for both internal and external recruits. This is being done to avoid window dressing. The other constraint of the affirmative action programme is government capacity. The key constraints to delivery are limited staff capacity, scarcity of human resources at governmental level; lack of coordination and integration with other spheres of national and provincial government labour departments and the lack of effective organizational, technical and managerial support for affirmative action. With respect to globalisation, the automotive sector is a dynamic and global sector which is changing fast due to technology and globalisation. As a result, the requirements of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM's) who are competing globally were seen as a hindering factor to the realisation of affirmative action. In conclusion, the achievements of affirmative action programmes amongst DAC affiliates were very modest in relation to both national expectations and their own stated goals due to shortage of skills, family and direct ownership and poaching. Implementation has proved far more complex and resource demanding than originally anticipated.