The knowledge continuum as an enabler for growth and sustainability in the South African basic education system
Steenhuisen, Maria Jacoba
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The poor state and failure of the basic education system in South Africa gave rise to this research. The wave of knowledge loss experienced in the last two decades is expected to carry on and will continue to deplete the basic education system’s knowledge base, severely affecting the already poor quality of education as well as the future economic growth and sustainability in South Africa. The main research objective was to establish whether future growth and sustainability in the basic education system in South Africa is achievable; which factors it is influenced by; and how knowledge continuity could impact on future growth and sustainability. A multidisciplinary approach focusing on organisational performance, knowledge management, individual and organisational behaviour and organisational development was followed. The nature of growth and sustainability and knowledge continuity in organisations was explored by following a contextualisation theory-building process. The main objective of the empirical research study was to determine by means of quantitative research the degree to which the influencing factors would enhance or impede growth and sustainability in an organisation. A quantitative survey method was followed. A questionnaire was developed and the survey was performed in 6 primary and secondary schools of the basic education system in South Africa. The questionnaire was found to be reliable with a Cronbach’s alpha of .8060. In the descriptive factor analysis process, principal component factor analysis was conducted, which described the five constructs that would influence growth and sustainability. These constructs’ dimensions produced significant intercorrelations which indicate that the dimensions are for the most part intercorrelated with each other in contributing to growth and sustainability. The multiple regression analysis indicated that knowledge loss would have an exceptionally strong impact on knowledge; and that knowledge, information and performance would significantly predict growth and sustainability. Organisations should change the focus for growth from physical assets to the development of intellectual capital, and knowledge continuity should form part of an organisations’ business strategy and mission. Knowledge continuity will only be successful if a culture conducive of trust and knowledge sharing and transfer exist, and are supported by effective and appropriate human resource practices and incentives. A structural equation model development strategy produced a knowledge continuity model aimed at enabling future growth and sustainability, based on the constructs confirmed in the factor analysis. The model indicated that there is a direct causal relationship between knowledge, information and performance with growth and sustainability. The regression analysis showed that most of the intercorrelations are significant, thus confirming the theory. The newly developed questionnaire and structural equation model should enable organisations to measure the degree to which the enhancing individual and organisational behavioural factors of growth and sustainability are in place and provide the measurement outcomes that would identify the factors that need to be focused on to improve and enable future growth and sustainability in an organisation.
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