Building a sustainable competitive organization : the case of the University of Zululand.
Nhlabathi, Sibonakaliso S.
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This study explores strategies for building sustainable and competitive organizations with the University of Zululand (UZ) as a case of the study. The problem of the study is uncovering reason/s why the UZ has not developed into a sustainable and a competitive organization. In order to solve the identified problem, two activities were undertaken. These are a review of theory on building sustainable and competitive organizations and collection and analysis of data about the UZ. Systems thinking theory a discipline of a learning organization was used as a framework of the study. Systems thinking theory was used because conventional approaches to organizational development have not been able to offer lasting solutions to the problems that affect sustainability of organizations. Extensive reference was made to the work of Senge (1990, 1994, and 1999). Works of other scholars on this subject were widely consulted. According to Senge (1990) the most successful organizations are what he calls learning organizations. Learning organizations are distinguished by the following disciplines, viz., systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning. In as far as data is concerned, three sets of data were collected and analyzed, namely, in depth-one-on one interviews were conducted with people that are knowledgeable about the UZ; and with representatives of business of the city of Umhlathuze to find out how they view the UZ; and a survey was done to determine attitudes of employees of the UZ towards the institution. The analysis of data showed that the UZ did not meet the criteria of a learning organization, that helped to explain why this institution has not developed into a sustainable and a competitive organization. The study recommended that this institution adopt a living systems framework and thus becomes a learning organization, because it is only by becoming a learning organization that the UZ will be sustainable and competitive.