Change is theorised as being inevitable and constant, yet it can be managed either
proactively or reactively. It can occur incrementally as a process, or drastically and
radically; this invariably affects the systems and sub-system.
Most managers in the Public Service (PS), officials, consultants and practitioners
conceptualise change management with minimal strategies of how to deal with it,
especially when it occurs in an organisation. Change management needs key role
players with respective roles to manage change within an organisation. Change
management in this study is in the context of organisational strategic change, where
human resource (HR) and line managers are regarded as key stakeholders in dealing
with change, particularly strategic change, in the PS.
Failed change efforts are due to inadequate change management competence, which
ultimately demands effective change management solutions, tailor-made programmes and specific actions, including skills and roles that need to be applied. If change is not
managed in an organisation, it creates resistance that is associated with negative
emotions where individuals and collectives experience fear, anxiety, insecurity, loss of
control, constant routines, traditions, lack of support, confidence and trust. At an
organisational level it can result in inadequate performance due to unclear goals and
affected employees not being involved in the planning of change, as well as poor
management style and political dynamics within the organisation.
The PS is in flux and is affected by the rapid pace of social, political and technological
change. Change should be managed by HR and line managers in the PS.
The aim of this study was to determine the different roles that HR and line managers
play during various phases of strategic change in the context of the PS and to further
explore if they actually fulfil those theoretically determined roles.
Motivation for the Study
The PS has undergone tremendous change, mainly to adapt its service delivery
machinery to government’s broadened mandate to serve all of the people of South
Africa. Therefore, the motivation of this study is based on the lack of success in the
PS in delivering services as required. This necessitates change efforts to improve
service delivery. The failure of change efforts due to insufficient change solutions by
management in the PS creates a gap in knowledge about change management
solutions in the PS. This knowledge gap exists as result of the fact that there has been
no research that has explored, in any detail, specifically how HR and line managers
go about managing change on a day-to-day basis. This indicates that there is a
scarcity of prior empirical studies exploring how change should be managed in
organisations, including the PS. Leaders and managers in the PS do not understand
the complexities they are facing when dealing with change due to the lack of capacity
in terms of roles in leading and managing the change process. Hence the motivation
of the study seeks to determine change management solutions through key
stakeholders, by exploring the roles of HR and line managers in managing and leading
change in the Public Service.
Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2016.