Black managers and their work colleagues in selected industrial organizations in Natal : a study of perception, attitudes and experiences.
South African black Managers are experiencing numerous problems as pioneers in the white-dominated managerial world. Management and research studies have usually concentrated on the black managers' behaviour. The present investigation attempts to redress this by examining their work-related experiences. Phase I examined the attitudes, perceptions and experiences of 34 black managers, and of selected work colleagues (a boss, peer and subordinate,if available) in regard to the black manager and black job advancement issues. In-depth, focused interviews were conducted. Fundamental interpersonal perceptual discrepancies emerged between the black managers and their work associates. The black managers tended to attribute their work problems and behaviour to external, situational factors By contrast their work colleagues often ascribed them to personal dispositions of the black manager. Euclidean distance analyses revealed that the largest interpersonal perceptual differences were between the black manager-boss dyads. This was followed by the black manager-peer dyads, boss-peer dyads and black manager-subordinate dyads. The black managers' perceptions diverged significantly from those of their white bosses, whose perceptions were closer to those of the white peers. Finally, analyses of incomplete sentences filled in by the black managers identified two types of subjects. Type I informants possessed more positive self-concepts than Type II individuals. Phase II: Since the black managers appeared to be experiencing considerable work stress, this was followed up using focused interviews. The conceptual work of stress used involved models of personal environment fit, and role episode. The major work stressors the black managers reported were role-related, followed by interpersonal stressors. Role conflict, generated by their marginal, middleman position between white management and the black Workers, was particularly stress-provoking. Although several black managers coped with stressful work conditions by direct problem-solving action, many resort to emotional defensive mechanisms. Discriminant analyses revealed that: black managers with large boss-black manager interpersonal perceptual disparities, were under more stress than those with small disparities; more work stress was reported by Type II than Type I informants, by middle management than junior management blacks, and by black line managers than black staff managers. The thesis concludes with recommendations of an applied nature.