Exploring the Triggers of Transformational Change in the South African Department of Correctional Services

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


Change is a critical phenomenon in any organisation that wants to optimise its performance at individual, team and organizational levels in order to survive and remain competitive in the intensely competitive and globalised operational environment – be it economic, social, political, technological, international or labour market environment. This paper presents empirical evidence gathered from research participants in the Correctional Centres located in the KwaZulu-Natal Region of the Department of Correctional Services on the factors that triggered 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). An interest in the triggers of transformational change within a correctional environment has motivated the authors to embark on an empirical study which sought to establish the triggers of the transformational change in the Department of Correctional Services of South Africa. The study was significant, particularly if one considers the fact that there is generally an interest in the factors that force organisations to initiate and implement organisation-wide changes. Change and transformation strategists, 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 the external and internal triggers of organisational change was undertaken as part of contextualising the triggers of transformational change within the South African Correctional Services environment in general. The literature study was followed by the empirical study which focused on gathering data from correctional officials and offenders through utilising two survey questionnaires. The empirical findings revealed that the fundamental culture change from the punishment-oriented philosophy which was characterised by non-existence of a human rights culture to a rehabilitation-focused philosophy underpinned by the promotion and maintenance of a human rights culture was sparked off by various internal and external factors. These ranged from financial, social and political reasons to complaints about service from offenders, complaints from national and international bodies regarding human rights violations, competitive forces, proactive and progressive leadership,and the need to reduce recidivism.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n10p596

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

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