Cultural influences on strategic change implementation in state Corporations: the case study of Kenya Ports Authority
Mtalaki, Anderson Mwakio
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This study was done to determine the cultural dimensions that influence change management at Kenya Ports Authority. Focus was on change initiatives which had already been implemented by the maritime industry state corporation. As such, analysed data was collected from people who were directly involved as the changes took shape. The researcher personally administered the interview guide (Appendix III). Respondents were carefully selected as being knowledgeable in their areas of involvement, able to bring out facts about the cultural influences and change programs as well as fairly represent the diversity of the employees. The interview sessions were very informative since the respondents to great extents confirmed information found in reference materials and working documents such as the corporation’s strategic plan, business plans, corporate change management charter, annual budgets, tender documents, technical specifications, procurement plans, performance contracts, training programmes, project timetables, customer services charter and survey reports. The major cultural factors found to significantly influence strategic change implementation were top management support, customer focus, efficiency, competence and teamwork. To some extent, factors such as ethnic prejudices and vested interests had light bearing on change management hence recognized as sub cultures within the corporation. Also in this category are negative beliefs and slogans amongst members of informal groups. It was also found that the corporation has over the years applied various strategies to obtain employee buy-ins to assure success of necessary changes. Formulation of change teams by credible managers and unionists advanced necessary impetus for their availability and commitment throughout implementation. Motivation was mainly reinforced by the managing director’s approvals signifying top management backing for needed change so that efforts will not after all be in vain. The authority of top management was manifest whereby certain critical requirements were prescribed as mandatory such that flouting them would be breach of policy. Co-option, sensitization, counseling, negotiation, regular briefings and updates, work place visits by top management and celebration of milestones were among ways which allayed fears and enabled deepening of change. Sensitization messages printed on each employee’s monthly pay slip were spectacular; just as were regular internal and external surveillance audits. Whenever culture posed barriers to structure and people changes due to ignorance of employees on what the change entailed for them, education, negotiation, participation, co-option and involvement were the main methods applied to enhance change readiness. For technology changes with large capital outlay, education and specialized training were in many instances part of the change program. These were found to have included rewarding change team members in monetary forms as well as local and overseas travel commonly referred to as familiarization tours or simply training duty travel.