Managing human resources in a cross cultural context: A case study of South Africa

Essay by phkawuahUniversity, Master'sB, February 2003

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There is a belief, within the developing-developed world paradigm, reflecting the convergence theory and contingency theory that the developing world, through industrialization and globalisation, would more or less become like the developed world. This is reflected in the trend for 'western' approaches to management to be imported into developing countries through multinational companies. This may not only affect organizations in the private sector, but also those in the public and parastatal sectors and those recently privatised enterprises which are in the process of refocusing as a result of downsizing and other major organizational change. It is likely that when western companies try to implement 'western' human resource practices in cultures, which have a different concept of people, and a different regard for people in organizations, then incompatibilities will be manifested through lack of motivation and alienation leading to low productivity and labour strife. ( accessed on 5th December 2002)

South Africa has a population of approximately 40 million people.

Three-quarters of its population is black (African) and approximately 15% is white (European). The rest is a mixture of white, Malayan and blacks whose ancestors were of Asian descent. There are six major ethnic groups in South Africa: Afrikaner, Coloured/Cape Malay, Bantu, English, Chinese and Indian. There are 11 official languages in South Africa. Most South Africans speak English and Afrikaans, which are derived from their Dutch heritage. ( accessed on 5th December 2002)


The term apartheid (from the Afrikaans word for "apartness") was coined in the 1930s and used as a political slogan of the National Party in the early 1940s, but the policy itself extends back to the beginning of white settlement in South Africa in 1652. After the primarily Afrikaner Nationalists came to power in 1948, the social custom of apartheid was systematized under...