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The importance of strategic leadership and change management in achieving the national sustainability objective: the case study of Unilever.

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The central purpose of this study is to investigate the importance of strategic leadership and change management in achieving the overall national sustainability objective while using Unilever as a case study. It builds on previous research undertaken with respect to leadership, sustainability and change management. In consideration of the current South African economic environment, this bears a climate of continuous turbulence and uncertainty. The fast moving consumer goods industry is one which is deemed to be a large contributor to economic growth. Hence, the significance of focusing on Unilever, being one of South Africa’s largest FMCG organisations. Due to global advances and the development of more “mindful consumers”, the shift towards a more sustainable environment becomes one of extreme importance. The study predominately assumed a quantitative approach for data gathering, and a minor qualitative method in the form of open-ended questions, of which were distributed to Unilever employees. The data was analysed by using statistical methods such as the SPSS system, within which inferential and descriptive statistics were used. The results from the study indicated that organisational success is dependent on effective leadership, of which must be customised to the organisation and culture, closely relating the nature of South Africans. The results further indicated that effective change is required to progress the concept and execution of sustainability within organisations, all driven by effective leadership implementation. Additionally, more integrated methods of attracting consumers so as to convert their attitudes to achieve the corresponding, desirable behaviour, which will subsequently stimulate the achievement of business opportunities and enhance growth. It further provides a preview into some of current issues experienced by the country as well as the FMCG industry and provides clarity on the areas of focus which require further research in order to capitalise on opportunities in growing both organisational success and the economy. This is essential for a developing country such as South Africa, in terms of playing an active role in progressing the future global economy.


Master of Commerce in Management Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2016.


Theses--Management Studies.