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The effectiveness of strategic management in the public service : a case study on the Department of Local Government and Housing in Limpopo Provincial Administration .

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Strategic management is regarded as one of the highest forms of management activities in the South African government. Consequently it is mandatory for Heads of government departments to develop strategic plans for their departments. Despite compliance to the strategic management framework as prescribed through the Public service regulations and the Treasury regulations, service delivery targets as set out in these plans are often not achieved. This also results in the underspending of monies budgeted for the delivery of basic government services. This paper presents the findings of the study undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of strategic management in the public service. The study employed a qualitative approach in the form of a case study research method targeting the Department of Local Government and Housing in Limpopo provincial administration. It is evident from the findings that the department is comprised of a number of elements or organizations within its environment that it is dependent on for it to achieve its objectives, and that some of these organizations are in turn dependent on the department to achieve theirs. This makes the department and organizations within its environment typical complex adaptive systems in that for them to achieve their goals, they need to adapt to one another. Failure to meet strategic plan targets in the department is attributed to (1) the government prescribed strategic choice and linear approach to strategic management that does not take into account the complexity and uncertainty of the department’s environment and the views of stakeholders; (2) the capability of management to perform the strategic management function which is questionable, (3) lack of a systems thinking approach in the department, and (4) ineffective strategic control. The study recommends a strategic management model for the Public service that will encourage management to see the department as a system that is influenced by and also influences other systems within its environment to achieve its objectives. This will facilitate the interactions between the department and its stakeholders during the formulation of strategies and the implementation thereof. Key Words: Strategic management, strategic plan, strategic formulation, strategic implementation, strategic control, complexity, complex adaptive systems, organization, strategy, systems thinking, environment, public service, resources and uncertainty.


Thesis (M.Com.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2009.


Strategic planning., Local government--South Africa., Theses--Leadership and management.