Management of cultural diversity for performance enhancement: a case study in eThekwini municipality.
Mngomezulu, Thabile Daphney.
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A new democratic South Africa in 1994 led to the final Constitution with transformation of the Public Service to an effective, efficient and economical one in meeting citizens’ needs. Chapter two of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, 1996 is in keeping with citizens’ rights in the management of cultural diversity. Reinforcement of diversity in the Constitution formalizes 11 official languages and recommends that communities be treated equally regarding cultures, friendship, humanity and tolerance amongst all South African groups. This is premised on promoting and protecting their rights through equal distribution of resources and equitable rendering of services. In laying the foundation for diversity management in both the citizenry and the public administration context, diversity in organizations is at the heart of development. This research argues for an organization that respects differences rather than seeking to level them out and an important consequence where people are no longer forced to “belong” to a common ethnicity, or culture. Instead of focusing on diversity as the means of defining population or gender, diversity management and culture should be intently explored in order to improve organizational decision-making and performance. The intent is whether cultural diversity is a contributor to better performance of managers in the eThekwini Municipality, and finding a connection between them. As local government in the forefront of service delivery, strategies and policies on diversity ensuring the satisfaction of its employees, is thus an organizational performance imperative. One of the benefits of sensitizing employees to cultural diversity issues is that it makes them more effective in dealing with all fellow employees. A key objective includes: determining the connection between cultural diversity and performance in eThekwini Municipality in particular; and exploring the influence of organisational culture on managers’ performance. A key research question underpinning the study included focus on cultural diversity factors influencing managers’ performance. The theoretical framework locates diversity as a direct influence on performance because of its exclusive cognitive resources. The research is grounded on the theory that cultural diversity contributes to improved or enhanced performance. A sample of 148 participants informed surveys and 2 participants were interviewed using a mixed methods approach and thematic trends in organisational environment, cultural diversity, leadership and management skills and compliance were covered. Agreement to close gaps between males and females in senior management positions was evident. By improving cultural knowledge, the ability to better meet the employees, clients, communities and customers’ expectations would contribute to an effective work environment vis-a-vis improved performance.