'Sitting on a Mine of Wealth': Perceptions of a South African Financial Company among Selected Consultants

By Stephné Herselman.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Based on ethnographic research conducted in agencies of a leading South African financial company, this paper focuses on perceptions of the company among a group of selected consultants, all of whom qualified as so-called previously disadvantaged/deprived individuals (PDIs) in terms of the Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998. It discusses how their perceptions are shaped by culture in the conventional anthropological sense, and also by the culture of the company itself. Following from this is an investigation of how cultural phenomena influenced the consultants’ attitudes towards the company, their work, and ultimately their work-place behaviour. The paper also comments on how, in the consultants’ views, their values and expectations diverge from those of the company and its managers. The context of the study was the social and cultural diversity of South African society, the changing corporate environment in the country where, in line with globalisation, requirements of the Employment Equity Act and demands for black economic empowerment, the target company recruited more black people to penetrate the so-called ‘emerging market’. However, in the consultants’ view, the company failed to consult with them adequately, specifically about the market in which they had to operate, and they expressed concern about what they perceived as a lack of adequate black representation in managerial positions and on the company’s board of directors. Thus, inherent in the consultants’ perceptions of the company were also work-related expectations which were not being met.

Keywords: South Africa, Financial Company, Consultants, Organisational Culture, Values, Expectations

The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp.67-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 605.814KB).

Prof. Stephné Herselman

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

As an Associate Professor of Anthropology, I teach undergraduate and postgraduate anthropology, with a special focus on the Anthropology of Organisations and Medical Anthropology, specifically in the southern African context where I have been involved in various ethnographic research projects. I am the editor of Anthropology Southern Africa, the official and accredited Journal of the national association of anthropologists in South Africa (Anthropology Southern Africa). Currently I am acting Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of South Africa, one of the largest ODL institutions in the world.

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