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The Impact of Affirmative Action on Employees' attitudes towards equality: To BBBEE or not to BBBEE? A field study in South Africa
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School.
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background- South Africa, the most southern country at the African continent as the name depicts, is a country where Apartheid has prevailed the historical and contemporary landscape of the nation.  The era of Apartheid, being a system of discrimination and segregation, produced racial imbalances within the South African society and polices of affirmative action was enforced as an attempt to redress the racial inequalities.

Purpose- By studying a distinctive type of affirmative action in a historically ethnically distressed context (organizations in South Africa), the purpose of this thesis was to receive insight on what impact affirmative action has on employees’ attitudes towards equality. The purpose was divided into two research questions to get an understanding of the implications that shape employees’ attitudes. The first research area aimed to identify and investigate which key factors are influencing employees’ attitudes towards affirmative action. The second research area considered the underlying cause of affirmative action and thereby investigated what impact affirmative action has on individuals’ as well as groups’ attitudes towards equality.

Method- In order to fulfill the purpose of this thesis we used a qualitative method approach.  The approach adopted for the qualitative study was a constructivist grounded theory approach and the research has been performed with both an inductive and a deductive approach. The empirical material has been gathered through in-depth semi-structured interviews with eight employees at four different multinational companies operating in South Africa, by informal interviews with individuals in South Africa and through parallel observations. 

Results and Conclusion- We provide five key factors that influence employees’ attitudes towards affirmative action; organizational culture, top management support, incentive for teams versus individual performance, prior experience of diversity and cultural artifacts. Furthermore, we present a three-step model on how intergroup contact can impact employees’ attitudes towards equality. We found that increased exposure towards diversity, through group interactions, can decrease employees’ negative prejudices, evaluations of other groups and thus enable an understanding that can help create a more positive attitude towards equality.

Practical Implications- The key influencing factors identified in this study will help increase the knowledge of how to manage affirmative action within organizations. The findings can help managers and business leaders dealing with the implementation and management of affirmative action, both for their own understanding as well as in terms of guiding their employees on their approach toward affirmative action programs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 94 p.
Keyword [en]
Affirmative action, B-BBEE, Apartheid, Employee attitudes, Organizational culture, Group identity, Diversity, Prejudice, Group integration, Equality
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-30161ISRN: JU-IHH-FÖA-2-20160270OAI: diva2:932638
Subject / course
IHH, Business Administration
Available from: 2016-06-22 Created: 2016-06-01 Last updated: 2016-06-22Bibliographically approved

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