Managing New Realities: Workplace Manifestations of Re-Constructed Social Identities in Post Apartheid South African Organisations
The enormous transformation South Africans have witnesses over the past 12 years, since the systematic dismantling of apartheid, in the era of social and economic reconstruction, brought about numerous societal, social identity and workplace changes and power shifts. The main challenge in the South African workplace is to (un)think old social identity categories, to unlearn norms and socialised paradigms established in an segregated society, and to integrate 'new' norms and regulations in an integrated society. The following are some of the most salient social identity challenges managers are faced with: Inter group tension and anxiety, the disconnect between internalised and legislated Affirmative Action and Employment Equity policies, which impact on the formal and informal culture of the organisation. The perceived cultural differences that culminate in leadership, followership and organisational practices - some groups accept the changes in South Africa and the cultural differences, and embrace them, while other groups are still resistant. Managers, also need to strike a balance between needed social integration and tendencies to segregation. The lack of social integration in informal settings in the workplace is still quite prevalent throughout most organisations. This can be seen as a possible way of reclaiming own identities, or as a way of just mirroring what is still the reality in South Africa. Segregation can also be used as a defence mechanism in social identity conflict situations or for self-protection in situations where there is discrimination. Managers need to understand these power shifts and support the different groups. This paper, firstly investigates how the re-constructed social identities manifest itself differently in the South African workplace. Secondly, it points out workplace implications and challenges faced by leadership due to these changes, and lastly, it proposes recommendations to deal with these new realities and workplace manifestations.
Keywords: Social Identity Conflict, Diversity Management, Workplace Conflict, Organisational Culture, Change, Transformation
Dr. Lize Annie Eliza Booysen
Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership, Leadership Division