Building cultural capital through value-driven leadership : a case study in an international finance company

by Ackerman, M.

Abstract (Summary)
Today, organizations are placed under extreme pressure to adapt to the ever-increasing changes in their environments in order to survive. Research proves that corporate culture has the ability to either blunt or aid change. Past research conducted in Z-Nam, a subsidiary of an international finance company situated in Namibia, indicated that a divided culture resulted in limitations in their functioning, including their adaptability. Pressure was placed on Z-Nam by its majority shareholder to internalise a set of core values into its daily functioning in order to build a strong adaptable culture. This objective called for values-driven leadership. The four core values identified by Head Office were integrity, respect, accountability and pushing beyond boundaries. In becoming more values-driven, values theory posits that Z-Nam will build its cultural capital and so reap the benefits of higher performance, talent retention and adaptability. In this way Z-Nam will be able to combat the weaknesses in its current culture. Leadership adaptability and the capacity to lead change were seen to distinguish cultural changes that succeed from those that do not. Principles inherent in the field of OD were also considered, as they are seen to assist in the effective management of change.

The methodology involved a purposive sample being drawn that included the top leadership team and internal OD consultant. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and thematic analysis employed in analysing the resultant data with three main aims in mind. Firstly, to assess Z-Nam's top management's perception of the current set of values being lived in the organization, to establish their level of support for the desired set of values proposed by Head Office and lastly to establish whether the leadership team is ready to promote the adoption of a new set of core values. Through comparing the themes that emerged from the data with literature on OD, values, culture and change, the researcher was able to make inferences as to the leadership's readiness and capacity to successfully lead cultural change. These findings were substantiated with secondary data from previous research activities. It was found that Z-Nam was not utilising its culture as an asset and that several barriers existed to adopting and implementing the desired values. It was concluded that Z-Nam will not be able to successfully embark on cultural change until its leadership recognises the importance of culture and their personal responsibility in bringing about the desired change, adequately assimilates information from past research and comes to a consensus as to the necessary accommodations that need to be made.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2007

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.