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Leading change in a South African school

Linda Ronnie (Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)
Sarah Boyd (Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)

Publication date: 12 June 2019


Subject area:

Human Resource Management

Study level/applicability:

Postgraduate business students

Learning outcomes

The learning objectives to be drawn from the case are as follows: To discuss the challenges of a leader within a resource-constrained environment. Students are required to highlight aspects of transformational leadership and assess the leader against those criteria. To highlight the connection between employee mindset, actions, and organisational performance. Students need to identify the key issues underlying the personnel challenges facing the leader. To explore the influence of leadership on employee engagement. Students should identify the actions taken by the leader to engage employees and analyse the intention behind them, as well as the actual outcomes. To discuss the potential solutions that the leader may institute to achieve the overall transformational objective for the organisation.

Case overview/synopsis

This case puts students in the shoes of Siya Zwane, the newly appointed principal of Green Acres Primary School in the South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Having recently completed her PhD in education after 10 years of teaching, Zwane is well versed in the best practices for organisational development and eager to apply them in a public school setting. Her leadership is particularly relevant in the context of a struggling school system that faces, among other issues, an economically disadvantaged population, overcrowding in classrooms, poor infrastructure, and a general lack of resources, including qualified staff. As a newcomer to this school system, Zwane learns quickly how these systemic issues manifest in her teaching team and realises that her first priority must be to empower her staff and enhance employee engagement.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 1: Accounting and Finance



Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognisable information to protect confidentiality.


Ronnie, L. and Boyd, S. (2019), "Leading change in a South African school", , Vol. 9 No. 1.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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