SA Journal of Industrial Psychology
On-line version ISSN 2071-0768
PRETORIUS, Marius; CILLIERS, Frans and MAY, Michelle. The Robben Island diversity experience: An exploration of South African diversity dynamics. SA j. ind. Psychol. [online]. 2012, vol.38, n.2, pp. 56-64. ISSN 2071-0768.
ORIENTATION: Because of its historic, symbolic and psychological representation, presenting a diversity event on Robben Island posed invaluable opportunities to form an in-depth understanding of South African diversity dynamics. This research focussed on such an event interpreted from the systems psychodynamic perspective. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The purpose of the research was to describe the experiences of participants attending the Robben Island Diversity Experience (RIDE) in order to understand South African diversity dynamics from a depth psychology perspective. MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY: Of the many and different diversity events presented in South African organisations, RIDE is the only annual systems psycho-dynamically designed and presented event. This research was an effort to explore the nature of these dynamics which manifest themselves from below the surface. RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: Qualitative and descriptive research from a hermeneutic phenomenology paradigm was used. The 15 participants who attended a RIDE event formed a case study. The data from an unstructured interview was content-analysed and interpreted using the systems psychodynamic perspective. The themes were integrated into a research hypothesis. MAIN FINDINGS: Five themes manifested themselves, namely, crossing boundaries, engaging the brave new world, ties that bind, being imprisoned and the struggle. PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS: The research highlighted the importance of understanding unconscious dynamics in the context of diversity in order to inform consultants about diversity management interventions in organisations. CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD: The research contributed towards how South African diversity dynamics manifest themselves and how that can be addressed in organisations.