Role of culture and change management in sustainable public service reform.

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Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management (ASSADPAM).


Culture and change is complex, unpredictable and cannot be managed but do have prospects for steering. This paper concurs with Van Tonder that change management is cultural management; and also with Bate that culture and strategy are substitutes. For understanding the concept of institutional culture, the Three Layered Diagram of Schultz, et al. was found to be simplistic but useful. The ‘new’ and ‘strong’ culture provides design parameter for cultural change or reform. This paper recommends design parameters for reform of public services in the Southern African Development Community (SADC); and complements the research of Bate in providing a more detailed roadmap for institutional cultural change consisting of the following integrated phases or dimensions: Structural (understanding); spatial and temporal (origins and trajectory); processual (life cycle); contextual (environmental context) and subjective (objectives and ambitions of role players). Amongst other, the following institutional cultural change applications are discussed: For understanding a specific institutional culture, the Organisational Checklist of the United Kingdom Civil Service College is recommended; and an in-depth knowledge and thorough cultural assessment. For strategy formulation, the 7-S Strategy Framework of McKinsey, is useful but not without its limitations. This framework can be combined with the Balanced Scorecard of Kaplan and Norton to provide balanced and cohesive strategies for reform.


ASSADPAM Annual Conference and AGM (2007 May 29 -June 1 : NUST)


ASSADPAM Annual Conference & AGM, 2007, Windhoek, Change management, Public sector reform, Conferences and workshops, Culture


Coetzee, J. (2007). Role of culture and change management in sustainable public service reform. Paper presented at the 2007 ASSADPAM annual conference and AGM, Windhoek Namibia.