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An evaluation of business strategy execution at selected manufacturing companies in Pietermaritzburg : perspectives of shop floor employees.

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South Africa has developed an established and diversified manufacturing base that has shown its resilience and potential to compete in the global economy. The manufacturing sector in South Africa has been faced with serious challenges with regards to global competition, cheap imports, local costs and lower productivity levels. Various studies have been conducted with the aim of establishing the causes of poor performance in this sector and in particular, lower levels of productivity. The main findings revealed that business strategy execution was a top down approach by nature and not a bottom up one. Consequently, in the absence of this bottom up approach, lack of training for lower level employees was found to be the main contributor to the problem of poor productivity. Furthermore, low educational levels and unskilled machine operators were also found to be the main causes of poor performance as well. Despite these findings, productivity within this sector continued to decline. The aim of this study was therefore to establish how the shop floor employees perceive the impact of the following key variables, namely: business culture, leadership engagement, leadership styles, work experience and training on the successful execution of business strategy for achievement of higher levels of productivity or organizational performance. Existing literature covered extensively aspects pertaining to the lack of employee involvement, skills and training, employee empowerment, organizations using a top down approach in developing and implementation of business strategy. All of these aspects were also found to be key in the failure of many organizations when it comes to business strategy execution. The study has brought the new dimension on the shop floor employees’ perceptions of business strategy implementation within the manufacturing organizations for the realization of improved productivity levels. The study followed a quantitative research method and pilot testing was conducted before the questionnaire survey phase. The questionnaire for this study consisted of closed or pre-coded questions and was distributed to shop floor employees employed in the manufacturing companies participating in this study. A total of 320 participants took part during the questionnaire survey with 100% response rate and the results were analysed using SPSS (version 25). The hypotheses were tested using the Chi square goodness of fit test. The main finding from the study was that the shop floor employees perceive business culture, leadership engagement, leadership style, employee training and experience as having a positive influence on the successful execution of business strategy in the manufacturing companies. A recommendation was therefore made that management of the manufacturing sector need to engage the shop floor employees in the process of strategy formulation and execution, as these lower level employees can come with valuable ideas that would enhance successful strategy execution and thus improve organizational performance and productivity.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. 2018.