Managing Human Resources In A Cross Cultural Context: A Case Study Of South Africa

4461 words - 18 pages

INTRODUCTION

There is a belief, within the developing-developed world paradigm, reflecting the convergence theory and contingency theory that the developing world, through industrialization and globalisation, would more or less become like the developed world. This is reflected in the trend for 'western' approaches to management to be imported into developing countries through multinational companies. This may not only affect organizations in the private sector, but also those in the public and parastatal sectors and those recently privatised enterprises which are in the process of refocusing as a result of downsizing and other major organizational change. It is likely that when western companies try to implement 'western' human resource practices in cultures, which have a different concept of people, and a different regard for people in organizations, then incompatibilities will be manifested through lack of motivation and alienation leading to low productivity and labour strife. (http://www.africamanagement.org/Resources/Theories/post-instrumental.htm accessed on 5th December 2002)

South Africa has a population of approximately 40 million people. Three-quarters of its population is black (African) and approximately 15% is white (European). The rest is a mixture of white, Malayan and blacks whose ancestors were of Asian descent. There are six major ethnic groups in South Africa: Afrikaner, Coloured/Cape Malay, Bantu, English, Chinese and Indian. There are 11 official languages in South Africa. Most South Africans speak English and Afrikaans, which are derived from their Dutch heritage. (http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/africa.htm accessed on 5th December 2002)

HISTORICAL FACTORS

The term apartheid (from the Afrikaans word for "apartness") was coined in the 1930s and used as a political slogan of the National Party in the early 1940s, but the policy itself extends back to the beginning of white settlement in South Africa in 1652. After the primarily Afrikaner Nationalists came to power in 1948, the social custom of apartheid was systematized under law.

The implementation of the policy, later referred to as "separate development," was made possible by the Population Registration Act of 1950, which put all South Africans into three racial categories: Bantu (black African), white, or Coloured (of mixed race). A fourth category, Asian (Indians and Pakistanis), was added later. The system of apartheid was enforced by a series of laws passed in the 1950s: the Group Areas Act of 1950 assigned races to different residential and business sections in urban areas, and the Land Acts of 1954 and 1955 restricted non-white residence to specific areas. These laws further restricted the already limited right of black Africans to own land, entrenching the white minority's control of over 80 percent of South African land. In...

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