The Reality of Resistance to Change Behaviour at the Department of Correctional Services of South Africa

Mbongeni A. Mdletye, Jos Coetzee, Wilfred I. Ukpere


One of the dynamics of transformational change which the study sought to establish within the offender correctional environment was the notion of resistance to change, which forms part of the human dimension of transformational change. This paper presents empirical evidence gathered from the Correctional Centres of the South African Department of Correctional Services in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal on resistance-to-change behavior displayed by the employees of Correctional Services, namely Correctional Officials regarding the fundamental culture change from the punishment-oriented philosophy to the rehabilitation-driven philosophy in terms of the treatment of sentenced offenders (herein referred to as DCS change). Inadequate empirical evidence on the significant role that the human elements and dynamics play in the success or failure of transformational change efforts has motivated the authors to embark on an empirical study which sought to establish whether the paradigm shift from the punitive approach to the rehabilitative approach within the offender correctional environment in South Africa was characterised by the resistance-to-change behavior on the part of correctional officials. The study was significant, particularly if one considers the fact that organisational change scholars (though there are still few who have researched on the subject) have put forward an argument that the high failure rate in the implementation of transformational change interventions is attributed to the neglect of the human factor during the planning and implementation phases of the transformational change management process. Change and transformation strategists, change and transformation implementers, change and transformation agents, change and transformation recipients, organisation development practitioners, and managers in general in both the public and private sector globally and in South Africa in particular will benefit from the study, particular if one considers the fact that transformational change interventions are currently being implemented across the South African public service as part of the government’s agenda of reconstructing and developing the South African society. An extensive literature study on resistance to change was undertaken as part of contextualising the resistance-to-change behavior within the Department of Correctional Services and South Africa in general. The literature study was followed by the empirical study which focused on gathering data from correctional officials through utilising a survey questionnaire. The empirical findings revealed that there were indeed elements of resistance-to-change behavior on the part of correctional officials insofar as the DCS change was concerned.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n3p548

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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