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How leadership actions benefited the commercialisation of a government research and technology organization in South Africa
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6330-2992
2005 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Today, leadership roles in organizations are becoming increasingly challenging and stressful. Performance and productivity are paramount issues for all leaders with their success also depending more and more on the impact of their actions on the people they lead. Our paper discusses such phenomena with the objective of contributing to the growing literature by providing an insight into how the actions of leaders and managers in one R&D organization impacted positively on the lives of its staff and contributed to the success of its commercialisation. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is a government research and technology agency in South Africa. It started a commercialisation processes in the year 1988 with the objective of re-orienting its operation from that of a pure scientific research entity into that of a contract-oriented research organization with the capability to self-generate seventy percent of its income. As at the year 2003, the organization is perceived by its peers as a success story with the leadership and management credited for accelerating its evolution to a knowledge-intensive technology organization which is contributing to the African renaissance, aside being both internationally competitive and regionally relevant. In our study, we explored the dynamics of leadership in the organization with the objective of understanding how they contributed to its success. We generated qualitative data from the perspectives of the implicit leadership theories held by individuals by interviewing seventeen senior staff members made up of Directors of Divisions, Programme Managers, and Senior Corporate Officers whom we identified as key actors in the implementation of the best management practices for the commercialisation process. A historical data analysis based on the transformational leadership theory, show that the leadership was able to ensure the new values and norms it introduced in the organization impacted positively on the organization’s internal operating environment. We realised that these values were underlined by the introduction of new staff performance review and reward systems in line with its new business culture. Also, the ability of the management to improve quickly the quality of its human resources contributed significantly in alleviating initial feelings of resentment, caused by the fear of future uncertainties among staff members towards the leadership’s decision to commercialise the organization’s operations. It also came out that the leaders encouraged participation at all levels in its decision-making process and thus made it easier for managers to continue taking actions on organisational problems and tensions as they emerge in the organization. Our analysis also established that the leaders had a clear strategic direction as well as a clear managing process during the commercialisation process, and hence were able to imbibe a sense of empowerment among the staff members. We conclude that the organization’s president and members of the management board collectively provided a charismatic/value-based style of leadership in the organization, and thus were able to make significant contributions to the upliftment of the staff members morale and the consequent success of the organization’s capacity to operate as a commercial entity capable of fully generating its own income today.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Industrial Work Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-27710Local ID: 13dbbfc0-6f35-11db-83c6-000ea68e967bOAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-27710DiVA, id: diva2:1000899
Conference
Scandinavian Academy of Management Meeting : 18/08/2005 - 20/08/2005
Note
Godkänd; 2005; 20110218 (ysko)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2017-11-25Bibliographically approved

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Sanda, Mohammed-AminuFältholm, Ylva

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