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Director: Prof. Walter Baets

School Profile

The UCT Graduate School of Business’ goal is to be a leading emerging market business school that is relevant both internationally and to its local context. Its mission is to build and strengthen three pillars of excellence to ensure that we produce responsible leaders with a keen grasp of complex organisational and social challenges and opportunities: 

1) Academic Excellence and Thought Leadership: The GSB is one of South Africa’s leading business schools in terms of research. We strive to make good use of our position at the tip of Africa, a continent in which the role of business in contributing to sustainable development is especially pertinent. GSB research is published in scholarly journals, as well as the popular media, taking a stand on issues of public concern. There is no uniform position within the GSB on key questions within management disciplines or surrounding the role of business in society; rather, we seek to cultivate a culture of debate within the school and beyond, which also enriches students’ experience.

2) Societal Relevance: The GSB has unique opportunities to contribute to the university’s strategic goal of addressing key developmental challenges facing South Africa and the continent. This includes the all-important teaching and research activities at the GSB, but it also relates to the manner in which we seek to create mutually beneficial relationships with diverse stakeholders. Much of our research has important pertinence for public policy or business strategy, and we strive to enhance such links through, for instance, workshops and conferences for officials or managers. Teaching and training programmes have been developed to proactively target disadvantaged youngsters, as in the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development. Students in the MBA and other programmes are commonly linked to real-life development initiatives as part of their learning experience, especially in their group work.

3) Pedagogical Excellence: The GSB has sought to augment traditional lecture style teaching and case study discussions with alternative approaches that emphasise experiential learning and personal development. A dedicated methodology called SYSTAL (Systems Thinking Action Learning) has been developed and implemented particularly in the Executive MBA, linking systems thinking to on-the-job action learning projects. Such approaches are also implemented in the executive education and customized academic programmes, as well as the MBA. The emphasis on systems thinking allows for the holistic integration of complex social, environmental and organizational issues in the exercises, discussions and projects in the classroom and beyond. A key underlying premise is the need for personal reflection and the development of mindfulness in becoming a responsible leader.

With specific reference to research, 2010 was a busy year. The ongoing process of developing and implementing the GSB’s research strategy culminated in a workshop in July 2010, which focused on practical measures to achieve previously stated objectives. The main outcome was a working paper specifying strategic objectives and practical implementation mechanisms for research at the GSB. These pertain, for instance, to increasing the quantity and quality of research outputs; developing a coherent research identity for the GSB; and supporting the emergence of a research culture. To raise our capacity to achieve some of these strategic objectives, the GSB research coordinator was employed to support the research director and work with faculty and students in stimulating, coordinating and supporting research at the GSB.

Over and above fortnightly research seminars, other research related events during 2010 include the launch of a writing circle, in which GSB affiliated researchers can meet to provide peer-reviews of colleagues’ work in progress. We have also been encouraging GSB researchers to apply for NRF ratings and we gained two new ratings in 2010 (one ‘Y’ rating and one ‘C’ rating). Finally, in late 2010 we began disseminating a call for papers for an international conference hosted by the GSB in November 2011, ‘The Business of Social and Environmental Innovation’.

The GSB’s research strategy seeks to ensure relevance to practitioners in private and public sectors. A prominent example is the GSB’s Management Programme in Infrastructure Reform and Regulation, led by Prof Anton Eberhard, which helped organise a major conference in late 2010. Another example of the link between research and practice is Prof Norman Faull’s work on lean operations in public hospitals.

With regard to publications, the total number of publications (yet to be confirmed in terms of accreditation) is comparable to previous numbers in 2007 (16) and 2009 (17), but lower than the 27 achieved in 2008. The number of journal articles was eight, down from 12 the previous year. However, 2010 continued a trend initiated in 2009 of at least one article published in journals in the Financial Times list, which is an important target for business schools.

Given some of the initiatives commenced in 2010, we hope that publication output for 2011 will be more substantial. Initial signs are positive. In addition, we are expecting a number of exciting new faculty positions to be filled and this will also enhance publication output.


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