Original Research

Diversity dynamics operating between students lecturers and management in a historically Black university: The lecturers perspective

Michelle S. May
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 38, No 2 | a1003 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i2.1003 | © 2012 Michelle S. May | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2011 | Published: 27 March 2012

About the author(s)

Michelle S. May, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The historically Black and White universities in South Africa were shaped by apartheid policies (Abdi, 2003). This research project started, within this socio-political context, because lecturers in a historically Black university (HBU) were confronted with unresolved experiences concerning their relationship with students and management. The researcher describes the diversity dynamics in a historically Black university, by forming an in-depth understanding of these dynamics, operating in the relationship between the students, lecturers and management, from the systems psychodynamic perspective.

Research purpose: The purpose of the research was to describe the experiences of nine lecturers in a particular HBU. This was undertaken to analyse and interpret the conscious and unconscious diversity dynamics operating in the relationship between the students, lecturers and management, from the lecturers’ perspective.

Motivation for the study: The researcher was interested in the nature of the diversity dynamics operating in the relationship between students, lecturers and management in an HBU, as a platform towards understanding diversity dynamics in educational institutions and South African organisations.

Research design, approach and method: Qualitative and descriptive research approaches were used. Hermeneutic phenomenology, using the systems psychodynamic perspective, allowed for the description and interpretation of diversity dynamics operating in the relationship between the students, lecturers and management. The data were obtained through in-depth interviews with nine lecturers. Thematic analysis resulted in two broad themes for which a discussion was provided and a research hypothesis formulated.

Main findings: Two broad themes manifested, firstly diversity characteristics and secondly struggle skills entrenching the Black and White divide.

Practical/managerial implications: The research highlighted the importance of understanding the diversity dynamics operating in the relationship between students, lecturers and management. This was in order to develop our understanding of diversity dynamics operating in educational institutions specifically, and organisations in general.

Contribution/value-add: The understanding about diversity dynamics is available for application, by lecturers and management, to form a different understanding of conscious and unconscious factors impacting on the relationship between the three stakeholders, and subsequently the effectiveness of the three stakeholders in their respective roles. This understanding can also be transferred to other organisations.


Keywords

Black/White divide; struggle skills; Black-person-in-the-mind; White-person-in-the-mind

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