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APPENDIX A The Role of Organizational Culture and Effectiveness of Public Organizations Keynote address delivered by Dr.

Stephen Adei, rector and director general of GIMPA

Chairman Distinguished guests Workshop participants

I deem it a great honor and privilege to be called upon to deliver the keynote address for this workshop, which is to deliberate on how the cultures of public-sector organizations in Ghana can affect their development, survival and overall worth to the communities these organizations are supposed to serve. Mr. Chairman, over the years researchers have increasingly investigated organizational culture and the possible links to organizational performance and effectiveness. According to some, organizational culture, more than any other factor, dictates an organizations ability to survive and succeed. If this organizational culture would be so important for the survival and success of public-sector organizations, we would like to understand what it is all about. Without getting too theoretical, let us say that organizational culture refers severally but commonly to the shared pattern of beliefs, assumptions and expectations of the organizations members. In the words of Hofstede (1995), culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes one group or category of people from another. Within an organization this is defined by group norms, espoused values, rules of the game, habits of thinking, mental models, attitude to time,


etc. In essence, an organizations culture is the repository of what its members agree about. Organizational culture affects all aspects of organizational life from the ways in which people interact with each other, perform their work and dress, to types of decisions made in an organization, its policies, procedures and strategy considerations; how top management deals with various situations; how people actually spend their time at work; and the organizations physical setting, etc. In our local context, organizational culture may be seen in: The attitude toward leadership and leadership style. For example, we tend to put our leaders on pedestals and accept high hierarchical distance between the governors and subordinates. In companies in America, for example, the managing director and a messenger may eat at the same takeaway and ride in the same bus. Attitude to time management: Ghana meantime or Greenwich meantime. Work planning and performance monitoring versus aban adwuma (government work) mentality. Propensity to consume, not to save and invest. Connection versus merit system, etc.

The point that I am trying to make is that organizational values obtained from the culture are important because a firm or institutions underlying values and beliefs define the organizations philosophy for achieving success. They reflect the view of the way things should be in an organization that is shared by organizational members. That philosophy will provide a sense of common direction for its members and guidelines as to acceptable behaviors in their daily operations.


Positive organizational cultures have been linked to increased staff alignment, resulting in enhanced organizational effectiveness, heightened consensus regarding strategic direction, increased employee productivity, and advanced levels of employee commitment (Barney, 1986). Mr. Chairman, we think that leadership and organizational culture are tightly intertwined. Leaders must have a deep understanding of the identity and impact of the organizational culture in order to communicate and implement new visions and inspire follower commitment to the vision (Schein, 1990). Transformational leaders help shape and maintain the desired culture of an organization (Schein, op cit), which may link to organizational effectiveness. Some researchers have suggested that transformational leadership and organizational culture contain the key to understanding organizational effectiveness (Bass and Avolio, 1992). High transformational leaders possess strong organizational cultures and carry out culture-building activities, especially the customer-orientation function, to a greater extent than other leaders do. Yukl (1994) defined transformational leadership as the process of influencing major changes in the attitudes and assumptions of organizational members and building commitment for the organizations mission, objectives and strategies (p. 271). The current thinking in the area of leadership is devoted to the leaders role in maintaining the organizational culture or in changing it to implement a change of direction dictated by a new vision (Bryman, 1992). The researcher suggested that the leader could alter or impact the organizational culture. Executive leaders should put their energies into developing a strong organizational culture that supports activities such as managing change, achieving goals, coordinating teamwork, and customer orientation in organization. These activities contribute to organizational


effectiveness. Successful organizations, over time, are likely to possess a strong, well-defined culture. Organizational culture must support activities linked to the mission of the organization. Mr. Chairman, I would now like to turn my attention to public-sector organizations and organizational culture with particular reference to Ghana. Traditionally we have the civil service, which one may label the secretariat of government and other state-owned institutions. While they share some similarities, they differ in many ways and as such it will be advisable to speak of the civil service and public-sector organizations with the latter referring to entities other than the civil service. The civil service inherited a unique culture from colonial times. The system has no doubt been disturbed, especially by the curse of military interventions and so-called revolutions. In the main its culture remains the same, sadly to say with some worsening trends after the old crop of professional, committed and industrious public-spirited civil servants of the A.L. Adu and Debrah types moved on. The culture of the civil service in recent times is not something to write home about. It is still a rule-based system; managerial leadership has been weak; and over the years the civil service got political, especially with the introduction of political units from 1982 and politically appointed chief directors. The situation is compounded by poor conditions of service, logistical limitations and a less than ideal elected official-civil servant relationship. The whole culture of the civil service requires urgent attention. Lately one hears of a chicken and egg argument. The leadership of the service argues that all will be kosher if civil servants are paid well. On the other hand, some of the authorities complain of poor work ethics and attitudes that undermine government policy and programs. The


situation is compounded by a half-baked decentralization that has resulted in the creation of a parallel system. But this debate cannot go on forever. Urgent action is needed. It is my considered view that improving the culture of the civil service will require more than a unidimensional action of salary increase. Hard as it is to implement, it requires a combination of effective managerial leadership, competency-based training, a performancelinked incentive system, and improved conditions of service. To ask a government which already spends the greater share of its revenues on public-sector wages and salaries to pay more is quite simplistic. This is particularly so in a situation whereby devoting 100 percent of current government revenues will still pay salaries which most of us will agree will be inadequate. Thus there is the need to link together revenue collection, economic growth and improvement in public-service wages in the long run. As to the wider public service, I have a stronger message. Since they tend to be welldefined entitiesa university, a secondary school, a factory, a service unitthe scope for a positive revolutionary culture change is greater. I say revolutionary because we are dealing with ingrained traditional attitudes militating against effective time management, productivity aban adwuma (government workwhich is minimum effort for maximum gain), and a high propensity to cheat and steal (which we have given a wrong label as corruption). Reversing organizational culture in such a milieu is both doable and challenging. I believe the key to that is effective transformational leadership, which provides vision, goals and discipline as well as models core moral and ethical values. It will require managers who walk their talk, and this will gain the confidence of their staff to manage change. Unfortunately, the way leadership of public institutions is appointed makes that difficult. In the first place, the tendency is to appoint boards based on party affiliation, old school boyism


and girlism, etc. I must add that the situation has improved markedly in recent times. What has not changed is the simultaneous appointment of boards and CEOs with the result that CEOs dont feel accountable to their boards but to appointing authorities. The situation is the same whether one is talking about government appointments or those appointed by constitutional bodies such as the National Media Commission. Unless organizational culture improves, we cannot expect the landscape of corporate governance to improve. Another factor that has constrained improvement in organizational cultures in the public sector has to do with our socialist past, of seeing these entities as employment bureaus, and the fear also of declaring redundancies and insistence on doing a days work for a months pay, etc. It is clear that the public sector is not a major employer of Ghanaians; it employs only about 800,000 out of a workforce of about 10 million. Yet the efficiency of the civil service and public sector will determine the growth of the economy and employment generation of the private sector. Thus, it is incumbent on us to do whatever it takes to improve the culture of the public service, generate growth and improve overall levels of employment in the economy. I believe that we can grow the economy of Ghana at double-digit rates, though it will require more than World Bank-IMF straight-jacketed policies. That would require a streamlined, capable, motivated, disciplined and accountable civil service and public sector. And the key to that is better organizational leadership and culture. Chairman, let me conclude by making reference to efforts at public-sector reform in Ghana during the past four years largely under the National Institutional Renewal Program (NIRP). (Other parallel systems included Civil Service Performance Improvement Program, Reform of the Judiciary, etc.). In the main, it was largely a consultant-driven process, sometimes


with as much as half a million dollars spent on consultants just to diagnose what is wrong and needed to be done but with nothing spent on fixing any problem. The leadership of the organizations under reform was either bypassed or treated as suppliers of information to mushroomed consultants. Overnight, consultants who have not had any experience of running any institution in their lives pocketed thousands of dollars, part of which could have ended as kickbacks to those awarding the contracts, given the rates at which contracts were awarded and the low quality control in some cases. In the end, only one institution got itself off subvention and anotherGRATIS [Ghana Regional Appropriate Technology Industrial Service]is today heading toward self-financing. The lessons for the future are clear. There will be no transformation for public-sector organizations without changes in organizational culture. In that regard the managerial leadership of the public sector is cause; everything else is effect. The government is retooling publicsector reform. The emphasis has to be placed on organizational culture change. Thank you all.



Barney, J. (1986) Organizational Culture. Academy of Management Review, 11(3):656-665. Bass, M. and Avolio, B. (1992) Developing Transformational Leadership: 1992 and Beyond. Journal of European Industrial Training, 14:21-37. Bryman, A. (1992) Charisma and Leadership in Organizations. London: Sage. Hofstede, G. Cultural Constraints in Management. Chapter 37 in J. Thomas Wren ed. (1995) The Leaders Companion: Insights on Leadership through the Ages. New York: The Free Press. Schein, E. (1990) Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publications. Yukl, G. (1994) Leadership in Organizations (3rd Ed.). Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice-Hall.