28.6.06

Knowledge Management

Long term phased projects (especially when it is complicated engineering development for government procurement) are feeling the brunt of the affirmative action policy as well. Development projects aim to increase service delivery and raise the living standards of all South Africans. A white professional is lucky to get a position as contractor in his private capacity on such projects, but will not, regardless of qualification or experience, be given permanent employment. Employment contracts are typically linked to the duration of a development phase within the project. Gap periods lasting from 3 months to a year, depending on the project, are experienced between development phases. Financial planning and allocation for the next project phase with approval procedures for work completed in previous phases are typical constituents of these gap periods. All sounds fair thus far, right…
Wrong!

Here’s the glitch…

Since the contractor is not an affirmative action candidate (otherwise he surely would not have worked as a contractor) and the contract was linked to “as long as there’s work”, the project manager is compelled to terminate the contract during the gap periods. Contractors are forced to look for new work (with international opportunities appearing even more promising). Project specific knowledge and experience are lost. Destroyed. As a result, immense indirect costs are incurred to redevelop human capital during the next phase of the project. These costs are reflected through low employee output, an increase in development mistakes of the project and massive increases in time and financial costs required for successful project completion. This ill influence of affirmative action might be a factor input to many project failures throughout South Africa that impedes economic growth to a large extent. Is it appropriate to question AA's influence on our economy; costs (direct and indirect) to the economy? Is research on the AA policy and the influence thereof on business growth acceptable or is the elite, benefiting from other AA advantages, smothering all questions?

Will I enjoy leaving South Africa at the end of August, knowing that in January some other sucker is required to study 1300 pages in my filing cabinet, prior to any efficient project continuation? I can tell you, it will leave a bitter taste!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Good job. Go on.
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