The role of internal communication in the transition process at the Durban University of Technology (DUT)
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The Southern African Higher Education system in the post-apartheid period had to respond to the various discriminatory practices that existed during the apartheid era. This entailed responding to inequalities in the education system at various levels. As far as higher education was concerned there was a need to serve society based on the principles of equality, equity and inclusivity. One such response was to merge higher education institutions such as ML Sultan Technikon and Technikon Natal to form the Durban Institute of Technology now referred to as the Durban University of Technology (DUT). The merger process revealed numerous challenges one of which was the human resource issue that underpinned the merger of staff between the two technikons which differed in practice. The rationale for this study was that staff at DUT were experiencing alienation; mistrust and a lack of shared purpose. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of internal communication in the transition process of the merger at the DUT. The objectives were to examine existing organisational communication tools; to evaluate staff perceptions of the current methods of communication utilised in the internal communication process; and to determine how internal communication has contributed to the transition process. The study used a quantitative research method; this enabled an evaluation of the role of internal communication in a higher education setting during a transition process. The sample population was 400 administrative and academic staff from across the seven campuses. Staff were assessed via a survey questionnaire. The data was analyzed using SPSS. The study found that living and coping with change in the work environment is a fact of life for organisations and individuals. The success of any change programme depends on the organisation’s ability to communicate effectively with its employees; therefore internal communication plays a pivotal role in any change programme. Staff at the DUT had limited communication from Management during the change phase. They were of the opinion that effective internal communication could improve productivity in the workforce.