Organizational Culture as a Primary Driver of Organizational Success: The South African University Experience


The new business paradigm foregrounds accountability, transparency, sustainability and good governance as the pillars on which organizational success is built. It demands attention to a range of strategies that have until recently been treated as “soft issues” deserving of inclusion into organizational scorecards, but having peripheral value only. These strategies include the identification and realization of organizational values, ethical behaviours, diversity, multicultural and transformation targets, as well as good governance arrangements. Most large organizations capture these in charters that are meant to guide the day-to-day activities of the workforce. Collectively these strategies and their execution refer to the culture of an organization. This paper seeks to present an argument for a sharpened and dedicated focus on organizational culture as a primary driver of organizational success and sustainability within the new business paradigm. The argument is presented within the framework of the University sector in South Africa. A transformation agenda dominated higher education policy in the post-apartheid years after 1994 and continues to do so. The success of the structural transformation of higher education has led to a current focus on substantive transformation of the sector that will bring quality higher education to the masses and also enable South African universities to produce scholarship of international quality. The apparent tension between these transformational ideals is best addressed by a resource-rich focus on a positive institutional culture that nurtures trust, respect and support and encourages innovation.

Author Information
Zenia Barnard, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Derek van der Merwe, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ECCS2015
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ECCS2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon