Original Research

At the edge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Employees’ perceptions of employment equity from a CIBART perspective

Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Claude-Hélène Mayer
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 45 | a1695 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v45i0.1695 | © 2019 Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Claude-Hélène Mayer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 May 2019 | Published: 24 October 2019

About the author(s)

Rudolf M. Oosthuizen, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Claude-Hélène Mayer, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: In accordance with global trends, South Africa is striving for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Discourses of employees’ employment equity (EE) perceptions within the 4IR context are studied 25 years after apartheid.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to understand the systems psychodynamics underneath the surface of employees’ perceptions of EE in South Africa within the context of the 4IR.

Motivation for the study: South African workplaces are debated nationally and urged to compete with 4IR changes on a global level. This research focuses on employees’ perceptions of EE underneath the surface and aims at understanding employees’ perceptions through the conflict, identity, boundaries, authority, roles, task (CIBART) model.

Research approach/design and method: Altogether 83 employees in 11 organisations in South Africa participated in qualitative interviews regarding their perceptions and experiences within their changing work contexts.

Main findings: The findings indicate employees’ perceptions of EE in terms of conflict, identity, boundary, authority, roles and tasks of the CIBART model. The discourses highlight EE, race and gender within contemporary South Africa, and show a lack of drive to engage with the discourses of the 4IR on a global level.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings show that employees and organisations in South Africa need to open up their internal discourses anchored in the country’s past to become key players in the 4IR; apartheid categories need to be overcome to develop context-specific visions and original ideas on how to create 4IR workspaces in the future.

Contribution/value-add: This article emphasises the gap between national discourses and global trends in employees’ perceptions of EE and discusses transformational ideas from after apartheid to 4IR visions.


Employment Equity (EE); workplace perceptions; below the workplace surface; CIBART model; Fourth Industrial Revolution.


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