Exploration of Systems Thinking in the Universities of Technology in KwaZulu-Natal


  • Patrick Mbongwa Mhlongo, Robert Walter Dumisani Zondo


Systems thinking, reductionist, Universities of Technology (UoTs), cross-functional collaboration, General Systems Theory, KwaZulu-Natal, organisational silos


The environment in which organisations operate is almost unpredictable and hence they have to deal with complex challenges.  It is necessary for organisations to continuously improve their processes and practices to remain competitive. The Universities of Technology (UoTs) are not immune from those challenges. Systems thinking philosophy has been identified as an effective management approach that helps organisations deal with such challenges. Hence, this study explores the application of systems thinking in the UoTs in KwaZulu-Natal.  KwaZulu-Natal, one of the nine provinces of South Africa, created in 1994 when the Zulu Bantustan of KwaZulu and Natal Province were merged. It is located in the southeast part of the country.  The province has two UoTs situated within the eThekwini District Municipality.

Organisational silos are still prevalent in the UoTs. This creates an attitude of “us-and-them”.  Consequently, collaborative efforts across the organisations become difficult.  Systems thinking has the ability to help UoTs respond effectively to complex and unpredictable challenges.  It facilitates this possibility as it assists members to focus on the organisation as a whole, including its stakeholders, rather than on individual parts of the organisation. It considers the organisation as a complex system with interrelated parts.  Hence, this paper provides insights on its application at the UoTs in KwaZulu-Natal