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Koers

On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Abstract

VAN AS, Alta. Singing for your supper: Staff singing for transformation and teambuilding in a South African bank. Koers (Online) [online]. 2012, vol.77, n.1, pp.1-8. ISSN 2304-8557.

Transformation entails meaningful change. In South Africa (as is increasingly the case in Europe and elsewhere), such change hinges on interaction and communication between citizens of different cultures, ethnicities and languages. Where the inability to speak the others' language(s) can inhibit real interaction and genuine communication, choral singing proffers unique opportunities for shared communicative experiences. In 2005, Dr Steve Booysen, then Group Chief Executive of the Absa Group, initiated an internal choir festival as a platform for social interaction and teambuilding for staff across all cultures, age groups and post levels in the bank. Booysen envisaged the choir project as a means of moral support during the Absa-Barclays merger. This article reports on the results of a Doctoral investigation into the extra-musical benefits of this project for Absa, such as transformation and teambuilding. Choral singing as social capital is discussed. The Absa choir project can serve as a microcosm of larger multicultural, multilingual macrocosms. The benefits attained through communal singing in this project may also hold possibilities for attaining unity in diversity in South Africa.

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