Original Research

The use of mixed-methods research to diagnose the organisational performance of a local government

Benjamin H. Olivier
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 43 | a1453 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1453 | © 2017 Benjamin H. Olivier | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 April 2017 | Published: 25 July 2017

About the author(s)

Benjamin H. Olivier, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The majority of local governments in South Africa are underperforming; a first step to improve their performance is to accurately diagnose their current functioning. The utilisation of a mixed-methods approach for this diagnosis based on a valid model of organisational performance will form a better and holistic understanding of how a local government is performing.

Research purpose: The aim of this study is to investigate the utility of mixed-methods research as a diagnostic approach for determining the organisational performance of a local government in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: The use of either quantitative or qualitative data gathering in isolation as part of an organisational diagnosis can lead to biased information and not identifying the root causes of problems. The use of mixed-methods research in which both quantitative and qualitative data gathering methods are utilised has been shown to produce numerous benefits, such as confirmation of gathered data, providing richer detail and initiating new lines of thinking. Such multiple methodologies are recognised as an essential component of any organisational diagnosis and can be an effective means of eliminating biases in singular data gathering methods.

Research design, approach and method: A concurrent transformative mixed-methods strategy based on the Burke–Litwin model of organisational performance with triangulation of results and findings to determine convergence validity was used. A convenience sample of 116 (N = 203) permanent officials in a rural district municipality in South Africa completed a survey questionnaire and were also individually interviewed.

Main findings: Results indicate that mixed-methods research is a valid technique for establishing the integrity of survey data and for providing a better and holistic understanding of the functioning of an organisation. The results also indicate that the Burke–Litwin model is a useful and valid diagnostic framework for identifying the strengths and development areas of an organisation’s performance. Finally, the results established the reliability and validity of the survey instrument used for gathering data.

Practical and managerial implications: A mixed-methods research approach is a useful method to diagnose organisations’ performance to ensure data integrity and to obtain a comprehensive picture of an organisation’s performance. A further practical implication is that managers and practitioners can use the Burke–Litwin model as a basis for diagnosing the performance of an organisation with confidence, as it identifies the most important aspects of an organisation’s functioning.

Contribution and value add: Organisational diagnoses are usually conducted by either quantitative or qualitative means, while the use of mixed-methods research is a relatively underutilised approach. This study aims to contribute to the availability of research approaches for diagnosing the performance of organisations.


Keywords

organisational development; action research; Burk-Litwin model; triangulation; district municipality

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