Original Research

Policy enforcement, corruption and stakeholder interference in South African universities

Bethuel S. Ngcamu, Evangelos Mantzaris
Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management | Vol 17 | a814 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jtscm.v17i0.814 | © 2023 Bethuel S. Ngcamu, Evangelos Mantzaris | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 June 2022 | Published: 13 April 2023

About the author(s)

Bethuel S. Ngcamu, Department of Public Management and Leadership, Faculty of Arts, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and, Department of Public Administration and Management, School of Public and Operations Management, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Evangelos Mantzaris, Department of Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


Background: The unprecedented and unchecked corruption practices that are prevalent in universities in South Africa have been aggravated by the minimal enforcement of policies and rules by university administrators and managers. This has opened up opportunities for corrupt relationships between internal and external stakeholders seeking to embark on corrupt activities in universities. As corruption is a worldwide phenomenon, this study selected previously disadvantaged universities in South Africa to investigate the effectiveness of university administrators and managers. The research examines the enforcement of policies and regulations in the effort to curb corruption.

Objective: The study further sought to determine the extent to which service providers and politicians are enabled to manipulate the supply chain management and procurement systems, convincing the university officials to overlook quality standards and specifications.

Method: This study was suited to a multi-case study approach, and the qualitative method was used to obtain data. A sample of 20 respondents were approached from different employment categories, including departments, faculties and trade unions.

Results: The major highlights of the study pointed to the following as being the dimensions of corrupt practices in universities: rules and regulations were not enforced by university officials. There were obvious corrupt relationships and agreements among corrupt individuals, without any action being taken against them; there was a clear corrupt relationship between internal and external forces, which included bribery by funders, service providers and suppliers; there was political interference from members of management and council members, driving the corruption agenda.

Conclusion: To fill the gaps that enable corruption in universities, the development of an anti-corruption workforce is a necessity. This can be achieved through skills development, proper intelligence, cooperation from stakeholders, employees refusing gifts and/or bribes and consequence management for those who are driving corruption.

Contribution: The findings of the study can be used to assist university stakeholders, agencies and decision-makers in understanding the nature and extent of the corruption that is prevalent in the institutions concerned. The research could have a positive influence on improving policy compliance and adding value regarding the scant literature on corruption in universities.


corruption; procurement; supply chain management; suppliers; universities


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