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A learning organisation perception survey of the Saldanha Bay Municipality
The merger of South African municipalities in the year 2000, and the dawn of the era of developmental local government, has confronted local authorities with a range of new challenges. In addition to the need to develop a new organisational culture and mutual trust, or the introduction of soft management actions, municipalities have to aetualise the concepts and processes of co-operative governance, integrated development planning, public participation and developmental local government. In addition, the White Paper on Local Government (WPLG, 1998) implores municipalities to lead and learn while they search for local solutions. An inability to learn and manage in a changed context and circumstances will inevitably lead to public displays of dissatisfaction, such as public demonstrations, that undermine municipalities' legitimacy. To overcome legitimacy dilemmas, municipalities need to strengthen their learning capabilities to enable them to operate effectively within changed circumstances and to become learning organisations. Such organisations, according to Senge (1990), have succeeded in formulating a shared vision, displayed a high level of personal mastery and team learning, as well as practising systems thinking. Together with these elements municipalities must identify and improve potentially constraining mental models. However, transforming any organisation into a learning organisation according to Dilworth (1996) requires a particular set of leadership qualities, such as commitment to the improvement of the quality of work life, democratic leadership and the promotion of human dignity. In this thesis, a learning organisation survey of the Saldanha Bay municipality's leadership cadre, consisting of Municipal Councillors, Executive Directors and Departmental Managers and Division Heads is undertaken with a view to determine whether these key functionaries practise the key learning disciplines of team leaming, shared vision, systems thinking, mental models and personal mastery. The results of this study indicated that the municipality in question has not yet succeeded in becoming a learning municipality. It has at best succeeded in laying a foundation for both councillors and officials to build on in order to achieve the desired result.