Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 84 Issue 3 (September 2011), Pages 425-624

Leading organizational change in the ‘new’ South Africa (pages 453-470)

This paper reports on a two‐pronged qualitative research study that used leaders’ life stories and the case research method to understand the leadership of change in 14 South African organizations. We describe how leaders led the changes required to balance the imperatives emanating from South Africa's socio‐political changes and return the country to the international business arena, as well as the challenges created by years of inequality and neglect of the socio‐economic development of the majority of its population. We found that the leaders’ life stories played a significant role in how they perceived and responded to the change situation. Four themes summarizing the actions of the leaders – namely, their efforts to embrace change, to provide hope, to connect change to African values and culture, and to champion diversity – are described. The results of the study suggest that leaders’ life stories can be an important source of information about how they perceive, interpret, and respond to change.

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