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126 4 CHAPTER FOUR: THE AFRICAN UBUNTU PHILOSOPHY A person is a person through other persons. None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. (Tutu, 2004:25). 4.1 INTRODUCTION Management practices and policies are not an entirely internal organisational matter, as various factors beyond the formal boundary of an organisation may be at least equally influential in an organisation’s survival. In this study, society, which includes the local community and its socio-cultural elements, is recognised as one of the main external stakeholders of an organisation (see the conceptual framework in Figure 1, on p. 7). Aside from society, organisations are linked to ecological systems that provide natural resources as another form of capital. As Section 3.5.13 shows, one of the most important limitations of the Balanced Scorecard model is that it does not integrate socio-cultural dimensions into its conceptual framework (Voelpel et al., 2006:51). The model’s perspectives do not explicitly address issues such as the society or the community within which an organisation operates. In an African framework, taking into account the local socio-cultural dimensions is critical for organisational performance and the ultimate success of an organisation. Hence, it is necessary to review this component of corporate performance critically before effecting any measures, such as redesigning the generic Balanced Scorecard model. This chapter examines the first set of humanist performance systems, as shown in Figure 11, overleaf. The chapter discusses issues surrounding the African socio-cultural framework. The chapter gives some background on the African
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127 Ubuntu philosophy, the significance of this philosophy in practice, some of the challenges of the African Ubuntu philosophy, and the overall contribution of the Ubuntu philosophy to the success of corporate management systems. Figure 11: Corporate performance and the African Ubuntu philosophy CORPORATE PERFORMANCE MECHANISTIC SYSTEMS HUMANIST SYSTEMS Traditional Financial Measures ( Chapter 2 ) Balanced Scorecard Model ( Chapter 3 ) African Ubuntu Philosophy ( Chapter 4 ) Sustainability Scorecards & 3BL Reporting ( Chapter 5 ) B usiness Ethics & Corporate Governance ( Chapter 6 ) Source: Own observation In view of the Ubuntu philosophy, the chapter also discusses external factors that affect internal organisational operations, for example, African culture and leadership styles, employees’ social values, and corporate social responsibility (CSR), which are deeply entrenched in African Ubuntu cultural systems. Knowledge about and the inclusion of these socio-cultural elements could act as a recipe for the successful implementation of an African management system, including a redesigning of the Balanced Scorecard model.
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