About South Africa

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Change Management and
Transformation of Work in South Africa

Chenjie Bao
A46607917
baochenj@msu.edu
09/2012

A. Reflecting on the whole notions of change management and "transformation of work," how has your understanding of the concepts generally been confirmed, changed or expanded by the visit to South Africa? What are the contrasts and commonalities between the South African context and experience and those of the US and other nations with which you may be familiar? Reflect on themes like the pace of change, alternatives to the status quo, winners and losers in change processes, etc.

About Changes in South Africa
South Africa is the only developed country on the African continent, and its economic strength and political influence in Africa play an important role. The apartheid system was broken in 1994 after the ANC came to power in South Africa in a political democratization process, South Africa experienced a period of rapid development, but the internal strife of the African National Congress and the economic structure of the country have limited the growth of the economy. The advent of the global economic crisis in 2008/2009 has only created further stress on the economy. All of these factors will affect the parliamentary elections and will give the new government in South Africa serious challenges.

Last century in South Africa, the small but powerful white minority that had monopolized all economic and workplace activity, other than manual labor, had been tasked to change the workplace to be more representative of the population as a whole. This small white minority used to act as gatekeepers for the majority who were in power, politically and economically. Over the past two decades, the economic and security situation in South Africa has been declining year by year as seen by a series of problems such as the government deficit, unemployment rate, crime rate, brain drain, power shortages plaguing the whole nation and others. The cause of these problems can be traced to the government. From Mandela to Zuma, South Africa has had three presidents and one acting president, what these four black presidents all made effort to do is to free the country from influence of the former administration dominant by white people. The regime that used to be efficient and powerful had become corrupt and incompetent. Gradually quitting politics of white South Africans, the white has been losing their grip on economy. Now that blacks have power, they have started to slowly get access to money, with the government continuing to adopt policies and legislation in favor of blacks. Welfare and treatment of blacks is getting better, while the political and social status of blacks is also improving. Affirmative action type programs are slowly marginalizing whites in various fields of the South African economy; the reality on the ground is that many white youths still in college are seeking employment outside of South Africa due to the lack of jobs (real or perceived). Deprived of jobs and social status in the coming future, these young white people with their roots in South Africa choose to leave their homeland.

“Discretion and equal treatment to employees regardless of their race, history or social status---will succeed or fail on the basis of whether the people affected do things differently.”

Today, the white network that ran major businesses before 1994 has largely been replaced by a new generation of black executives who are more interested in personal identity than capability. This is a country in transition and one with complicated cross-cultural management. Therefore a successful transition is more likely if the different management styles are handled with careful cultural discretion and equal treatment to employees regardless of their race, history or status of today.

What do I think about change management after visiting SA?
1. The well-known maxim, there is nothing permanent except change, is...
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