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Change for performance improvement in the Tanzania Ports Authority, a public sector organization in Tanzania

Faisal H. Issa (Department of Administrative Studies, Mzumbe University–Dar es Salaam Campus, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Ezekiel Peter Masanja (Department of Engineering Services, Tanzania Ports Authority, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

International Journal of Public Leadership

ISSN: 2056-4929

Article publication date: 26 April 2022

Issue publication date: 26 September 2022




This study is about the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), a central institution in the country that has seen efforts towards improved performance in terms of cargo handled and revenue generated from port operations. This study identifies the actions that were taken by public institutional leaders as a result of political leadership call for performance improvements and implications therefrom for sustainable performance. It attempts to engage with both change and public value theories to make sense of TPA efforts and implications as a result.


The study was conducted at TPA headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam and involved the management and other staff members. The study design was descriptive and exploratory. Data collection involved mostly the use of semi-structured questionnaires and review of documents.


The study reveals that the efforts to improve performance at the TPA indicate success in terms of cargo handled and revenue increases. Factors that support change and factors that impede change efforts were also identified making reference to Lewin's change theories and ADKAR (awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement) model. The varied level of improved performance is attributed to the emphasis on change factors and the origin of change that do not give the human element the requisite concern. The quest for performance improvement in the public sector organization is also found wanting on the failure to place the requisite emphasis on public value creation both in processes set in motion and the desired outcomes. A more planned systematic change, championed or internalized within the organization by internal players, specifically TPA's management, is also proposed for a better and more consistent sustainable change in performance at TPA and possible in other public organizations.

Research limitations/implications

The study is about an organization within a change context that is driven by the top leadership of the country. There have been studies on TPA but not as a change process and not yet after 2015 when the country witnessed a very strong leadership. According to Kets de Vries (2016), powerful leadership in Africa has had little to show and a legacy to be lauded. Therefore, there might be some relevance to contribute to the reasons why most African leadership fails, if that is the case.

Practical implications

Performance can be achieved through change efforts that are driven by the country's top leadership when the context is right and support factors are present. What can be elusive is sustainable performance creating public value and that endures despite changes in the country's leadership, particularly when internal leadership of a public organization is not the change champion and is basically toeing a line, and the change process is not holistic. A more systemic approach to efforts to create strong organizations as opposed to strong individuals in leadership may be key to sustainable change in similar institutions in Tanzania and Africa.


The study is based on change management models that have gained long-term interest of both scholars and practitioners. It explores a performance-seeking initiative in a developing country's context that is driven by top country's political leadership. It is thus unique because the institutional leadership had to be in stride with national level changes that was centered on efforts to improve service delivery and to counter corruption and complacency in public institutions. It has also attempted to link change theories and public value creation in the quest for improved public performance.



Issa, F.H. and Masanja, E.P. (2022), "Change for performance improvement in the Tanzania Ports Authority, a public sector organization in Tanzania", International Journal of Public Leadership, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 337-354.



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