PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to analyse the nature of the South African dual manufacturing and services economy and the impact thereof on organisations from a management perspective. PROBLEM INVESTIGATED: Services account for over 65% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and reflects an escalating trend. The manufacturing sector of the economy is just over 26% of GDP. This by implication implies that the South African economy is dualistic in nature. The economy functions as an integrated component of the global economy, one that is highly competitive and turbulent in nature. The traditional management approach tends to be one based on a mechanistic, analytical and deterministic manufacturing perspective that is no longer effective in dealing with the services economy. METHODOGY: A literature study is undertaken and a narrative enquiry conducted by means of discussions with 24 South African executives to determine the impact of the dual economy on South African organisations and the influence thereof from a management perspective. The approach adopted was intentionally analytical-descriptive in nature. The narrative enquiry constituted open ended but structured discussions with executives in order to learn from their personal experiences in managing an organisation in what is termed to be the dual South African services and manufacturing economy. FINDINGS: An important conclusion drawn from the study is that traditional paradigms of management that evolved within a mechanistic manufacturing economy is no longer effective for dealing with the unpredictable and disruptive changes of a highly competitive global services economy. A complexity theory based management approach it would appear may be more relevant in dealing with the emergent realities associated with a turbulent services economy.
VALUE OF THE RESEARCH: Seen within the context of the changing nature of the global and South African economy, the insights gained from the study could assist executives and managers in exploring alternative paradigms of management that would be more appropriate for dealing with the paradoxical nature of a dualistic economy. CONCLUSION: Appropriate management paradigms differ in terms of contextual realities confronting managers, namely dealing with ordered and un-ordered contextual conditions. The Cynefin Framework (Kurtz & Snowden, 2003) serves as a means of sense making in finding the most appropriate management response for dealing with the contextual realities associated with a dualistic economy.