COMMERCE > DEAN'S REPORT

The Commerce Faculty made continued progress in its leading objective of becoming the primary locus in South Africa for new, practically focused knowledge on economic development, poverty and inequality reduction, and the growth and deepening of business opportunities in South Africa and in Africa at large. We strive to be the vanguard of the creation of new market vibrancy on the continent, while serving as the primary portal for researchers from around the world who study the emerging African lion economies. In 2010, the Faculty’s research contract flow-through rose by over 25% on the previous year.

Our primary mechanism for growing our research impact, quality and visibility is to nurture organised research units in which senior, experienced scholars – well-connected with policy-makers in business, government and civil society – lead and develop the reach of younger researchers with an ever more diverse profile.

In 2010 the School of Economics and its six research units prepared to move into a new building purpose-built for research. The South African Labour & Development Research Unit became the African host of MIT’s world-renowned Jameel Poverty Action Lab, conducted the second wave of the National Income Dynamics Study, and acknowledged the receipt by Associate Professor Cally Ardington of the Economic Society of South Africa’s award for best Economics PhD in the country. The Director of the Development Policy Research Unit, Professor Haroon Bhorat, took up a Tier 1 SARChI Research Chair from the NRF at the start of the year. It conducted research into the enforcement of minimum wage laws, collective bargaining and sectoral determination of wages, among other topics. The Environmental Policy Research Unit launched new studies of water conservation and use, fisheries management, electricity consumption in Cape Town, and parks planning. PRISM (Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing) completed the research phase of its “Making the Most of Commodities Program in Africa”. The AIDS and Society Research Unit continued to inform policy around the nation’s most visible health threat. DataFirst received a grant from the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Fund to expand its archive of public databases on Africa. A similar grant supports the establishment of a new entity, the Research Unit on Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics, which conducts internationally reported research on pathological gambling and other addictions in South Africa.

In the School of Management Studies, the Centre for Actuarial Research received grants to study demographic estimation and determinants of child welfare. The Institute of Applied Statistics was launched. Staff of the Organisational Psychology section presented work at eight conferences and received new development grants. A team of postgraduate students in Finance won through to the finals of the CFA Investment Research Challenge in Hong Kong. The Unilever Institute for Marketing Research won a jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival for its documentary ‘Forerunners’, set in Cape townships.

The Department of Information Systems established a multimillion-Rand partnership with Samsung Electronics, the Cape IT incubator Bandwidth Barn and the Department of Computer Science to develop innovative mobile phone applications for African needs. The Department hosted two international conferences, helped design and launch a new IS doctoral programme at Addis Ababa University, and broke all of its previous records for research outputs.

Researchers in the Department of Accounting won three national prizes for papers. The Department graduated a record number of Master’s students in Financial Management and Taxation.

At the Graduate School of Business (GSB) a research coordinator was employed to support the research director and work with faculty and students in stimulating, coordinating and supporting research. Over and above fortnightly research seminars, events included the launch of a writing circle, in which GSB-affiliated researchers can meet to provide peer reviews of colleagues’ work in progress. The School gained two new NRF ratings, and requested submissions for an international conference scheduled for November 2011, ‘The Business of Social and Environmental Innovation’. 2010 continued a trend initiated in 2009 of at least one article published in journals on the Financial Times list, the international gold standard for business schools.

On this strong platform, we look forward to reporting further major expansion in our range and impact of research over the course of 2011.

Professor Don Ross
Dean of the Faculty of Commerce

 

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