Career Success in the South Africa's Public Sector: Diversity as It Impacts Our Work Performance

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What do the career patterns of successful, effective South African public sector managers actually look like? How do these patterns differ based on gender and race? This is a question that is particularly important in South Africa because of the importance of affirmative action and black empowerment in recruitment, selection and promotion processes. There is a need to provide guidance to public sector managers on how to “get up to speed” quickly. We will gather career advancement stories from successful public sector executives. These effective executives will be identified by a survey of the public management faculty who are very active in training and consulting with all three levels of government in the Western Cape. We will select male and female executives to provide narratives from the three racial categories make up the Western Capes population: Black, White and Coloured. These narratives will be recorded in response to the following question: You have been identified by knowledgeable educators as a public executive who is an effective and successful manager. Tell us the story of how you got to your present position. We are interested in how your career path progressed and the supports and roadblocks that you met along the way. This research will contribute to the literature on executive behaviour, leadership, diversity and career progression. We anticipate that men and women may identify different strategies and further we also anticipate that race will influence the career path. We have selected this methodology because we believe that the career strategies of effective managers will include such a mix of reactive and proactive strategies that a simple questionnaire will not capture the subtleties. Qualitative methods will better satisfy the need for detail that these rich stories will provide. Further, we anticipate that our research will support our teaching by identifying strategies that new public managers should consider as they proceed with their careers.


Keywords: Career Success, Career Pathing, Public Sector
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Belinda Ketel

Programme Head: Executive Development, School of Public Management and Planning, University of Stellenbosch
Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa

Programme Head: Executive Development of the School of Public Management and Planning, University of Stellenbosch. Management consultant and trainer involved in a wide variety of capacity-building projects focusing on development of systems and processes within organisations in the public sector. She is the project leader in various programmes and projects relating to strategic and business management, organisational development, people development, competency assessment, organisational transformation and design in the public sector. She has extensive experience in the design and implementation of organisational and individual Change and Performance Management Systems, Women Empowerment Programmes and Coaching & Mentoring processes.

Prof. Dorothy Olshfski

Professor, Department of Public Administration, Rutgers University
Newark, New Jersey, USA

Dr. Dorothy Olshfski is Associate Professor, Graduate Department of Public Administration, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey. She is the Managing Editor of Public Productivity and Management Review. In addition, she has published articles in numerous academic journals including, Public Administration Review, Public Productivity and Management Review, Administration and Society, Review of Public Personnel Administration, International Journal of Public Administration, and Western Political Science Quarterly. Previously, Dr. Olshfski served as Chair, Section on Management Science and Policy Analysis, American Society for Public Administration

Ref: D08P0304