Cultural influences on strategic change implementation in state Corporations: the case study of Kenya Ports Authority

This study was done to determine the cultural dimensions that influence change management at
Kenya Ports Authority. Focus was on change initiatives which had already been implemented by
the maritime industry state corporation. As such, analysed data was collected from people who
were directly involved as the changes took shape.
The researcher personally administered the interview guide (Appendix III). Respondents were
carefully selected as being knowledgeable in their areas of involvement, able to bring out facts
about the cultural influences and change programs as well as fairly represent the diversity of the
employees. The interview sessions were very informative since the respondents to great extents
confirmed information found in reference materials and working documents such as the
corporation’s strategic plan, business plans, corporate change management charter, annual
budgets, tender documents, technical specifications, procurement plans, performance contracts,
training programmes, project timetables, customer services charter and survey reports.
The major cultural factors found to significantly influence strategic change implementation were
top management support, customer focus, efficiency, competence and teamwork. To some
extent, factors such as ethnic prejudices and vested interests had light bearing on change
management hence recognized as sub cultures within the corporation. Also in this category are
negative beliefs and slogans amongst members of informal groups.
It was also found that the corporation has over the years applied various strategies to obtain
employee buy-ins to assure success of necessary changes. Formulation of change teams by
credible managers and unionists advanced necessary impetus for their availability and
commitment throughout implementation. Motivation was mainly reinforced by the managing
director’s approvals signifying top management backing for needed change so that efforts will
not after all be in vain. The authority of top management was manifest whereby certain critical
requirements were prescribed as mandatory such that flouting them would be breach of policy.
Co-option, sensitization, counseling, negotiation, regular briefings and updates, work place visits
by top management and celebration of milestones were among ways which allayed fears and
enabled deepening of change. Sensitization messages printed on each employee’s monthly pay
slip were spectacular; just as were regular internal and external surveillance audits. Whenever
culture posed barriers to structure and people changes due to ignorance of employees on what the
change entailed for them, education, negotiation, participation, co-option and involvement were
the main methods applied to enhance change readiness. For technology changes with large
capital outlay, education and specialized training were in many instances part of the change
program. These were found to have included rewarding change team members in monetary
forms as well as local and overseas travel commonly referred to as familiarization tours or
simply training duty travel.
College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) [2576]