An exploration of perceptions and experiences of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)’s college reorganisation process: the views of professional support staff in the College of Law and Management Studies.
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One of the main components of the UKZN College Reorganisation was the reduction of the three-layer into the new two-layer structure consisting of only 4 Colleges and 19 Schools, the creation of fewer, larger “mega” schools, and according to Recommendations 1 & 2, the perennial poor performing schools would be identified and either be merged or closed. The implementation process started in 2011 and the new structure came into effect in January 2012. The administrative staff and in particular professional support, were the most affected in terms of deployment. Some positions became completely redundant as tasks were moved or combined, allowing for the creation of new and revised job portfolios. Due to the study being of an exploratory nature, the exploratory research design was applied in order to explore perceptions and experiences of UKZN’s College Reorganisation Process. A qualitative research approach was used to answer questions based on objectives set to establish and understand the existence of perceptions and experiences. The aim of this research was to accumulate descriptive data from participant’s own spoken words relating to their perceptions and overall experiences. Non-random purposive sampling strategy was applied, and using this particular method, the researcher purposely selected a sample from the target population most relevant to provide quality information to fulfil study objectives. A total number of 15 participants was achieved, a number deemed appropriate for a qualitative research study, where overall workforce concerns can be identified using smaller sample sizes. Three data collection methods (interviews, observation, and focus group discussion) were used. Data was analysed through content analysis using triangulation. Two theories were applied and used interchangeable as primary and secondary, as they influenced each side, the organisation and its people. Both positive and negative, strong and passionate views were equally heard and expressed throughout the entire process of this research project. Feelings of anger, fear and uncertainty, stress and worry, were reportedly experienced almost across the board. Newly appointed staff feared losing their jobs as they felt less advantaged than their long serving peers. A tremendous increase in workload was reported throughout, mainly due to staff reduction but equally, jobs became more focused. A number of challenges were reported on the views about communication, opportunities for training and growth, whilst other views pointed to lots of opportunities that still continued to exist. For others, personal satisfaction and growth was achieved. The institution was fondly described as having gained a positive outlook overall. Operations were centralised leading to easy access and convenience for students and visitors; it turned into a one stop-shop; it came out effective and user-friendly; it worked well for the institution, though staff issues were still a concern.