Leadership

Africa 4IR

What can Africa contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

USB News

What can Africa contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Africa 4IR

  • September 21
  • Tags Press release, Leadership, 4IR, Africa

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By Prof Martin Butler

The science fiction writer William Gibson remarked that “the future is already here – it is just not evenly distributed”. This is certainly true for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The First Industrial Revolution explains this perfectly. Even though certain communities and, to an extent, certain countries across the world did not know about the existence of the steam engine and industrialisation in Britain 250 years ago, it transformed the lives of thousands and then millions as it spread globally. That which was unique to parts of Britain in 1770, was well recognised and part of the new normal in 1860 in the developed world.

Fast forward to the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) and some of the most innovative uses of mobile technologies take place on the African continent. Mobile money is one area where we lead the world in using technologies intrinsic to the TIR. When the World Bank needed the skills to head up mobile payments, they recruited a South African that cut his teeth in Kenya.

Although steam and railways (First Industrial Revolution), mechanisation (Second Industrial Revolution), and computing and automation (TIR) shaped the African content, we remained primarily consumers of the technologies developed in other places. Africa either adapted or implemented the technology owned by global organisations or continue to purchase the products and artefacts. For example, we do not design vehicles or mobile phones at a mass scale. Still, we will create factories to manufacture under licencing, or purchase the products arriving in our harbours.

Three of the industries bucking the trend are telecommunications, financial services and agriculture. Some companies and products in these industries are entirely home-grown, and large organisations that are significant players in these industries have partially transformed the image of the lagging continent as African innovations and role players are starting to shape the transactional environment.

The 4IR, often confused with the third that is all about computers and automation, is blurring the line between the physical and the digital. The omnipresence of technology, as well as significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, is transforming the work that can be performed by, and how we interact with, technology. This cyber-physical world is different from automation in many respects.

This transformation challenges the essence of humanity, our values and beliefs, and most importantly, how systems react in certain situations. Products of the TIR, like drones and computers, responded to inputs from their human masters. Products of the 4IR, like self-driving cars and autonomous weapons systems, react based on their ability to make sense of their environments by using complex logic that continues to evolve. However, at the core of their reactions is complex patterns devised by humans, or at least the methods in which this complex logic evolves.

…we could, and should, play an essential part in the complex ecosystems that allow this blurring of the physical and the digital.

I do not think African companies will become global role-players in developing automated vehicles or autonomous weapons systems. I do believe that we could, and should, play an essential part in the complex ecosystems that allow this blurring of the physical and the digital. Africa can contribute to the 4IR not by resisting the inevitable distribution of the future brought by the 4IR, but by actively seeking to address some of the biggest remaining problems to ensure universal value for all industries, communities, and citizens of her countries.

Facial recognition systems that dispatch a drone to arrest a criminal on Interpol’s most-wanted list, must not embed past biases in the recognition and decision-making process. Autonomous vehicle and weapons systems must have access to ethical frameworks and moral judgements to make the correct decisions. Capacity development initiatives for humans working shoulder-to-mechanical-shoulder with automated manufacturing lines, or with AI algorithms in financial services, must have the capacity to do so.

The question is often asked about the destruction of employment in the face of automation and the 4IR in particular. Our research indicates that total employment is not reduced; it just shifts as the economy restructures. Rather than asking about the number of workers that will be displaced by technologies, we need to ask how we capacitate our workers to exploit the many new opportunities created by the 4IR. Why can we not be proactive and lead the world in devising methods and models to reskill our workforce for the newly structured economy?

Yes, Africa will not necessarily create the artefacts or entire ecosystems of the 4IR. Still, I think we have a critical role to play in contributing to the reasoning and algorithms embedded in the systems. We also have an important contribution to make in defining and setting examples of building human capacities to exploit and use the new world unlocked by these systems.

…we can make a significant contribution towards long-term value from the 4IR by forming part of the critical conversations and implementations and reskilling of the workforce.

Business, in essence, remains relatively simple: create value for customers through the execution of operations. As new customer value is created, and operations are transformed by investments in 4IR technologies, we need to become part of the conversation about creating equitable value for all customers and providing skilled resources to execute operations that deliver the required value.

Although Africa will not necessarily produce the hardware and software at the centre of the 4IR, we can make a significant contribution towards long-term value from the 4IR by forming part of the critical conversations and implementations and reskilling of the workforce.

*

Prof Martin Butler is Head of Teaching and Learning at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in Cape Town, South Africa. He is also a Research Associate at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR). He holds an Electronic Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria, and an MBA (Cum Laude) and PhD from USB.

**

Butler was the presenter at a USB Alumni Webinar facilitated by the Ghana Chapter of the USB Alumni Association on Friday, 28 August 2020, where he addressed the above topic.

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gwo 2023

USB to host Gender, Work, and Organization (GWO) Conference in 2023

USB News

USB to host Gender, Work, and Organization (GWO) Conference in 2023

gwo 2023
Business people working in high-end modern office

  • September 14
  • Tags Press release, Women in business, Leadership, diversity, inclusion, gender

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The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) has been selected from a competitive round of applications received from around the globe, to host the Gender, Work and Organization (GWO) Conference in 2023.

The GWO provides an international forum for debate and analysis of contemporary matters affecting gender studies specifically related to the workplace.

With the theme Marginalized gender identities, Prof Anita Bosch, USB Research Chair of Women at Work will be the lead convenor together with Faith Ngunjiri from the Concordia College in the USA; Nasima Carrim from the University of Pretoria; and Ameeta Jaga from the University of Cape Town.

Prof Bosch said hosting the conference in 2023 will be a first for Africa and a major achievement given the significant positioning of the GWO in global business scholarship.

“USB is ideally placed to take the lead as host institution with our expertise in workplace gender studies and offers us the opportunity to showcase the high calibre of international scientific and scholarly pursuits on the African continent.

“We are extremely proud that USB has been recognised as a partner to the GWO which further strengthens the business school and Stellenbosch University’s international scientific standing.”

Attracting around 500 people from around the world, the conference convenes for interdisciplinary scholarly exchange. The conference evolved in recent years from the Gender, Work & Organization Journal, launched in 1994 and the first journal to provide an arena dedicated to debate and analysis of gender relations, the organisation of gender and the gendering of organisations. It is one of the top journals for explicitly feminist work in organisation studies. The recently released 2019 Impact Factor emphasised this with an increase to 3.101 and a position as the number one title in the ‘Women’s Studies’ Web of Science subject category.

Although initially bi-annually, the conference will be hosted annually from 2021. For 2021, University of Kent in the UK will be the host, followed by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia and the Universidad Santo Tomás, Bogotá, in Colombia in 2022.

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USB hosts book launch for ‘Fault Lines’ that explores the lasting effects of race and racism in South African society

USB News

USB hosts book launch for ‘Fault Lines’ that explores the lasting effects of race and racism in South African society

  • JUL 02
  • Tags Fault Lines, Book launch, Race, Science, Society, Black Lives Matter, Research

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A book exploring the lingering consequences of race and racism in South Africa and globally was launched during an online event hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) on Thursday, 25 June 2020.

‘Fault Lines: A primer on race, science and society’ delves into challenging questions such as, What is the link, if any, between race and disease? What are the roots of racial thinking in South African universities? Are new developments in genetics simply a backdoor for the return of eugenics?

Co-editor Prof Jonathan Jansen, distinguished professor of education at Stellenbosch University, said the issue is how to educationally address these concerns when people so often scream at each other when it comes to issues of race.

“When you talk to people about terrible racist actions and they say in response to the crisis, Wat het ons verkeerd gedoen? (What did we do wrong), my initial gut reaction was to say, Get real. But I then realised these were genuinely real responses,” he said.

“People don’t have a lot of patience with people who respond with, I really don’t know what I did wrong. Yet the more I thought about that for the past ten years or so, the more I realised that that is true.

There isn’t a moral consciousness that kicks in that says, ‘This is horrible’.
– Prof Jonathan Jansen

“My colleagues, my friends, my students really did not know what they did wrong. There isn’t a moral conscience that kicks in that says, This is horrible. And unless we understand that, you are not going to change the underlying behaviour,” he said.

Dr Cyrill Walters, lecturer on the MBA programme at USB and who co-edited the book, said that “when we talk about ‘Fault Lines’ it would be remiss of us not to mention Angela Saini’s book, ‘Superior: The Return of Race Science’.

Even when people have all the facts, they don’t necessarily want things to change.
– Dr Cyrill Walters

“She touches on ignorance. She says ignorance is probably part of the problem, but the problem is not only ignorance. Even when people have all the facts, they don’t necessarily want things to change,” she said. “Even if people know it’s wrong there’s absolutely no reason for them to commit.”

Ferial Haffajee, associate editor at the Daily Maverick, was a speaker and made reference to UCT Professor Nicoli Nattrass’s research that made headlines recently (the research suggested that black South African students are less likely to consider studying the biological sciences than other students).

“I didn’t know how to approach it because I don’t think its primarily an issue of academic freedom; it’s much more than that. She sent junior researchers out at lunch and they asked 112 students if they had pets, wanted to study conservation, and believed that Rhodes must fall.

“Stupid questions like those were going to beget the stupid answers that she got into a piece of research that to me is quite deformative, and I think Prof Nattrass knows that,” she added.

There are reasons why we should raise our voices against such research while standing up for the rights of academic freedom.
– Ferrial Haffajee

“We sit with three pages of work that finds black students are materialistic and not really interested in the natural science. There are reasons why we should raise our voices against such research while standing up for the rights of academic freedom,” Haffajee said.

She added that it was easy to debunk the Nattrass research with facts. “All I did was call up SANParks to find out that 13 of our 20 beautiful national parks are headed by black South Africans and all of the senior conservationists at SANParks are black South Africans. I think the kind of crude science-based research is really passé and should be on its way out across our campuses,” she said.

Journalist and political commentator Max du Preez, who was also a speaker, said the timing of the book could not have been better “even though the authors could not have known that its publication would coincide with the extraordinary worldwide movement #BlackLivesMatter, unleashed by the murder of George Floyd”.

“I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to human beings’ ability to change in a short amount of time but the scale and intensity of the present movement suggests that history would one day point out that this was a moment when attitudes and sensitivity towards race shifted meaningfully,” he said.

Things can go wrong for a very long time, but we only sit up and notice change when something dramatic happens that gets lots of media coverage.
– Max du Preez

He added: “This is how we roll as human beings. Things can go wrong for a very long time, but we only sit up and notice change when something dramatic happens that gets lots of media coverage.”

Prof Piet Naudé, USB Director, said in his introduction that the book appeared on the cusp of both national and international hard debates about race and other forms of isms in our society. “The reason why it is so important for us at the USB to part of this, is because we are part of South Africa.

“Our students, academics and international students are subject to the same kind of socialisation processes in South Africa. Therefore, there is no reason why we are less prone to racist attitudes, dismissive gender attitudes and issues of sexual orientation,” he said.

Dr Armand Bam, Head of Social Impact at USB, was the facilitator.


Watch the video here >>

Fault lines book launch

 

The book is available at:

Google Books: https://bit.ly/2X7tBN8

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3bJUNFV

ITSI: https://bit.ly/2wOV5wc

Takealot: https://bit.ly/3fII9c2

African Sun Media: orders@africansunmedia.co.za / 021 201 0071

In the media

New book Fault Lines explores the lingering effects of racism in academia; Daily Maverick

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USB staff share why they are proudly African to celebrate Africa Day 2020

USB News

USB staff share why they are ‘proudly African’ to celebrate Africa Day 2020

  • MAY 27
  • Tags Africa Day, heritage, African, African Union, community

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In these interviews staff members from Belpark Campus share where they are from, what makes them proud to be African, and leaders who they look up to.

Adwoa Opoku-Nyarko
Customer Experience Brand Manager: USB-ED
Lecturing on the Strategic Analysis module of USB’s MBA programme
South African with Ghanaian heritage

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: I feel privileged to identify as an African, as I believe that our continent holds so much potential. We may be the youngest continent, but our rich cultural heritage and respect for our fellow human beings is truly inspiring. I believe that each and every continent brings something special and unique to the global context, and Africa definitely promotes a sense of community and solidarity: The African spirit is one of deep interconnectedness.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for SA, what comes to mind?
A:
COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the South African economy and its people; we must acknowledge that the pandemic has not been without serious casualties. However, the resilience of both corporate and civil society has definitely come to the fore. Big corporates, individuals, and everything in between, have shown what is possible at the nexus of innovation and a desire to serve others. This considerate, empathetic and solution-driven mentality has the power to really elevate South Africa in the time of re-building that lies ahead.

 

Zelda Cottle
Office Manager: USB International Office
South African (from Cape Town)

Q: What makes South Africa unique?
A:
Our history represents a complex society and while we successfully entered into a democratic economic transformation, the country is still grappling with a legacy of the past. However, South Africa has a lot to celebrate and it is a country filled with many opportunities and a diverse group of people.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A:
“It is said that when you are born in Africa, Africa is also born in and so the love affair with your homeland begins”.
To act with humanity towards each other.
“Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu” or “I am, because you are” is how we describe the meaning of Ubuntu.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for South Africa, what comes to mind?
A: For the South African government to prioritise a sustainable strategy to address the horrific unemployment rate (in addition to the people who lost their jobs during this time). But the unemployment rate is linked to the bad state of our education system so this needs immediate attention.

MacDonald Chapwanya
Hybrid Learning Designer: USB
Zimbabwean
macdonald usb
Q: What makes Zimbabwe unique?
A:
What makes Zimbabwe unique is the resilience of the people. The country has gone through the best and worst seasons and yet through it all they have maintained their principles and values.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: Being African to me means I derive and draw my identity from the African soil and I proudly embrace, embody, and espouse the African values, principles, and ethos.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
Nelson Mandela. He unreservedly fought for peace and reconciliation at a time where most would seek revenge.

Q: Comments on the continent’s response to COVID-19?
A: Even though we were one of the last continents to be significantly affected, the proactive approach by our leaders was remarkable in slowing the spread and flattening the curve. Considering how poor our infrastructure is and how under-developed we are as a continent, we were expected to take the hardest knock. BIG UP to our leaders, our health frontline heroes, and every son of the African soil for being proactive and pro-health.

Dr Njeri Mwagiru
Senior futurist: IFR
Kenyan

Q: What makes Kenya unique?
A:
Kenya is well known for its welcoming culture, we often say ‘Karibu Kenya’ – which means ‘welcome to Kenya’ in Kiswahili, one of our national languages, and also one of the official languages of the African Union.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: Being African means having a meaningful connection with, and rooting within, the culture, heritage, history, values, peoples, riches and potential of our beautiful continent. I resonate deeply with Africa both as a diverse geographic region – it is my home; but also as an idea and dynamic concept that is all encompassing of all of humanity – it is the birthplace of all of us, as far as we know.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
I admire women’s community leadership in African contexts. A characteristic of this leadership is that it binds communities together, it is resilient and innovative in its response to community challenges, and it is inclusive and mindful of all community members’ needs. There are valuable lessons and insights to be gained from women’s community leadership styles across diverse African societies.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for Kenya what comes to mind?
A:
The current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has called for African countries to be perceived and engaged as equal partners and contributors to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in general geopolitical and economic global configurations, and I agree with this commentary. In as much as we must recognise our shortcomings, the ongoing health crisis, and parallel economic and social crises as well as climate change, are an opportunity to imagine better futures. A focus on alternative narratives that celebrate our capabilities, strengths and advantages, may help to pivot the continent towards relevant reforms that not only address failings, but which are also innovative in driving positive change.

Q: What bought you to Cape Town?
A:
Higher education. Having received a scholarship to study my BA in Europe, I wanted to continue my higher education in Africa and to further my learning here. I was attracted by the high ranking and quality of universities in South Africa, as among the best in the continent. I undertook my doctoral programme in Cape Town. I continue to work in higher education and research in my role as Senior Futurist at the IFR, the only institute of its kind in Africa! I’m passionate about growing the futures studies network and strategic foresight community Africa-wide.

Q: What do you miss the most about Kenya?
A: My family and extended community. The equatorial warm weather. Kenyan tea!

Q: Tell us about a Kenyan tradition that you miss the most?
A:
Several traditions in South Africa are similar to traditions in Kenya, sometimes in ways that surprise me, as I was not aware of the many elements our different traditions share. I celebrate the way African cultures are similar in multiple ways regardless of region or country or language.

Q: During lockdown, how have you been staying connected with your friends and family who still live in Kenya?
A:
I’ve been staying connected online! This was the case pre-COVID-19 too, except with less travel currently, online connections are particularly important to maintain.

Sheena Maneveld
Logistical Coordinator: Incoming Programmes: USB International Office
South African (from Cape Town)

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A:
Being African, I am very proud to be a part of a diverse, vibrant and innovative nation.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
Nelson Mandela, he persevered and never stopped believing in his dream to unite South Africa.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for South Africa, what comes to mind?
A:
Technology during this time has become the most important tool of communication, education and work. For this reason, our country needs to invest more in upskilling people and making free internet available to LSM places. Also need to make IT devises more affordable and available at all schools.

Q: During lockdown, how have you been staying connected with your friends and family
A:
WhatsApp, FaceTime, House Party

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prof mark smith usb director

USB appoints Prof Mark Smith from Grenoble, France as our new Director

USB News

USB appoints Prof Mark Smith from Grenoble, France as our new Director

prof mark smith usb director

  • APR 29

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Strong leadership skills, academic rigour, and belief in the value of research – this is what USB’s new Director, Prof Mark Smith, will be bringing to the table when he takes up this position in October this year. He is currently Dean of Faculty at the Grenoble Ecole de Management in Grenoble, France, where he oversees more than 160 full-time academics.

 

Says Prof Ingrid Woolard, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University, “Prof Smith’s wealth of knowledge and experience sit well with USB’s academic focus areas and vision for the school. USB, its faculty, students and alumni operate in a globally connected world. Fresh perspectives from another world region will help to ensure that we, and our graduates, remain relevant.”

A strong belief in the value of research

Prof Smith’s research areas include youth employment policy, the integration of ethics across the business world, gender and the labour market, the role of business in social innovation, and the transition from education to employment. Over the past few years, he has published in over 70 academic books and journals.

He has considerable experience in leading large-scale funded research projects for the European Commission and global foundations. This research covered topics such as pay transparency, youth labour, women on executive boards, and the improvement of living and working conditions. This will serve USB well as we seek closer collaboration with the business sector and increased income via commissioned research.

“For me, the personal and professional challenge of coming to South Africa and contributing to Stellenbosch University’s vision to be the leading research-intensive university on the continent is very exciting.”

Prof Smith says he is “thrilled to be joining this triple-accredited business school, recognised in Africa and worldwide for its commitment to promoting a societal impact via business research and education. For me, the personal and professional challenge of coming to South Africa and contributing to Stellenbosch University’s vision to be the leading research-intensive university on the continent is very exciting.”

Helping USB to remain relevant

Prof Smith is well connected in the business school ecosystem – among others as an active member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management initiative led by the EFMD and AACSB. He is an expert advisor to various global organisations and foundations. He also comes from a triple-accredited business school.

Says Prof Piet Naudé, whose five-year term as Director of USB comes to an end this year, “I believe Prof Smith’s view of the role of business in society resonates well with USB’s vision to become a source of value for a better world. His strong belief in research will help to ensure that our business knowledge and academic programmes remain current. We look forward to welcoming him to our campus and under his leadership, see USB flourish.”

Prof Smith is passionate about the outdoors, running and cycling. He says he is looking forward to “sample our country’s rich cultural life”. He has two children.

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Coronavirus responsible leadership USB

Responsible leadership in the time of Corona

USB News

Responsible leadership in the time of Corona

Coronavirus responsible leadership USB
Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/couple-of-hands-2838506/ | Fotografierende

  • APR 03
  • Tags Responsible leadership, Lockdown, Compassion, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Hope

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USB’s Prof Mias de Klerk provides practical guidelines for responsible leadership during the time of COVID-19.

The world is in a crisis as the Coronavirus is creating havoc in all spheres of our existence. There is no one who can escape this disruption and we all have to deal with it in various aspects of our lives. This unexpected pandemic does not only test our physical strength health, but also our mental strength as individuals and leaders. In the time of COVID-19 we are challenged how we choose to take up our leadership role and the extent to which respond to it with responsibility.

…everyone is a leader and everyone is a follower. In dealing with this emergency, we must follow the leadership of others on many aspects.

Leadership does not only refer to someone in a formally appointed position. Rather, everyone is a leader and everyone is a follower. In dealing with this emergency, we must follow the leadership of others on many aspects. Yet, on many other aspects, everyone must provide exemplary leadership to others, perhaps at home, at work, or even when we are at the grocery shop. We all have leadership roles that we all can fulfil or neglect, take up or deny. The word ‘responsible’ originated from Latin, meaning to be answerable to another and to be accountable for one’s actions. With responsibility comes a liability, a liability to be held responsible and accountable for what we do, how we do it and to honour an obligation to be reliable and trustworthy. This is a huge and demanding task, even in the best of circumstances.

With responsibility comes a liability, a liability to be held responsible and accountable for what we do, how we do it and to honour an obligation to be reliable and trustworthy.

Without repeating the detailed context of the COVID-19 crisis, which is well articulated and explicated in formal and social media, it is necessary to reflect on some of its psychological consequences. The outbreak of COVID-19 renders projected disaster to economic for many economies, organisations and communities as countries and industries lockdown. It demands self and social isolation as a result of the high risks of contagion and health problems, even death. These dynamics transmute into panic, fear and apprehension as business and individuals face potential illness and mortality, a loss of income and even bankruptcy. Panic and fear augment individuals’ anxiety, stirring anger and fears about the virus and certain populations. Uncertainty blossoms as the crisis escalate without a clear solution in the foreseeable future. A vicious circle of fear, anxiety and uncertainty develops that must be broken. Although there is no magic solution to COVID-19, responsible leadership and acting responsibly can go a long way in breaking the vicious circle and helping individuals to deal with it.

Although there is no magic solution to COVID-19, responsible leadership and acting responsibly can go a long way in breaking the vicious circle and helping individuals to deal with it.

A few practical guidelines for responsible leadership that apply to all of us during the time of Corona:

Serve and unite

During the crisis of Corona, everyone needs to realise that this is not to a time for selfish benefit. Rather, it is a time of selflessness, to put one’s own desires and aspirations on the back burner, to serve, and to be useful to others. Find others who are in need and help them deal with their respective difficulties. It is now the time to unite with people across the divides of organisations, communities and countries. Blaming others and projection of one’s anger or anxiety to others who became infected elsewhere and are placing you now at risk are of no use. We are all in this together, and only together will we conquer it and move beyond this emergency to better times.

Which leads to the next point:

Accept and go forth

There is no use to sulk about the situation that we are in or projecting blame for its happening. It happened and it is what it is. We cannot change the lockdown, but we can change how we act and behave in it. Although the virus and its nature are not in our control, it is in our control how we react to it. As Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist who was incarcerated in the Nazi concentration camps realised: “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing – the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any give set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” We cannot wish away the virus or the disruption that ensues, but we have a choice of action and reaction to it. However, we always have a choice of how we act and react to the situation and its challenges. Trying to circumvent the lockdown restrictions with rationalisation or intellectualisation, trying to find and exploit loopholes in the governments instructions are serving nobody. It’s been a long time since the serenity prayer was as applicable as it is now: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Stop denying your responsibility to live and act safely and accept the proscribed guidelines provided by leadership.

Act decisively, but with wisdom

Apart from accepting what one cannot change, there are things that one can change. In these cases, COVID-19 require us to act decisively, but with wisdom. Do not waste time in making the right decision to change what you can for your organisation, team, or community. All of us will have to make difficult decisions, whether it is about ourselves or others. This is even more important for those in formal positions of authority. Responsible leaders act decisively in doing what is right to guide people and prevent further infections, but with wisdom. One of my students always quote H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” The situation we are facing are too complex for simple solutions; think carefully and act wisely in all you do.

Demonstrate compassion

Now is the time to demonstrate compassion for others, acknowledging and deeply feeling individuals’ fears, anxieties and dire realities, with a desire to alleviate their suffering. Compassion goes beyond cognitive knowledge about the economic impact of the lockdown and its realities. As important it is to inform people how to avoid contagion and to provide appropriate sanitisers and protective equipment, we have to go beyond this to provide emotional support. Compassion is about connecting with another person, knowing the person is suffering and identifying with the suffering. People are scared about the impact of the health risks of the virus, anxious about being able to pay the bills, uncertain as to what the future holds in for them. This is not time for platitudes, clichés of superficial messages of hope. When individuals realise their leaders and others who they hold in high regard understand and have empathy for their suffering, they are much more likely to respond constructively in how they deal with the situation.

Have the courage and strength to be vulnerable

Vulnerability stands opposed to fantasies of being the strong leader who is in absolute control and has all the answers. Responsibility requires leaders to have to courage to be vulnerable in dealing with the many dilemmas that Corona and the lockdown are demanding. We have seen enough evidence in the last month to know that we don’t know, and things can change daily. We can react to this situation by panicking, or being a beacon of strength and calmness. One has to acknowledge one’s own uncertainties and anxieties, yet provide and create hope rather than promoting despair. The courage to be vulnerable assist one to accept accountability for one’s actions and failures, to accept the fate of one’s communities and institutions, and to assist them through the crisis. It is only when we have the courage to be vulnerable that we have to inner strength to lead with calmness to reduce and contain panic.

Provide hope, but realistically

Napoleon has been credited to have said, “Leaders are dealers in hope.” We all look up to our leadership figures as symbols of hope and comfort. Indeed, we even project messianic expectations onto them to rescue us from the suffering that we face. Providing hope does not come from superficial statements of hope, for instance, “Everything will be OK”, or “There are many opportunities to gain from this crisis”. Hope comes from acknowledging and facing the problems head-on. This does not require one to become a superhuman being, but rather to become person who Frankl calls “homo patiens” – the suffering person who knows how to mould his or her sufferings and those of others into an achievement. Responsible people in the time of Corona are beacons of hope, individuals who inspire others in the way they walk their talk as role models.

A period of difficulty that challenges our mental and physical strengths is a challenge of character. Crisis does not build character but exposes it. The only question is, “What kind of character will each of us demonstrate during this time of crisis?”

The sort of leader and person one will become during this crisis is the result of an inner decision, not the result of the situation. Let this crisis be the epiphany of being responsible and demonstrating responsible leadership. When next generations reflect back on the time of Corona and those involved, let the words of Winston Churchill come to mind: “Never was so much owed, by so many,  for being such responsible individuals” (revised by the author).

Prof Mias de Klerk is Head of Research at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

 

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Is the Future of Internationalisation of Higher Education Threatened?

USB News

Is the future of internationalisation of higher education threatened?

  • FEB 24
  • Tags Academic Opening, Internationalisation, Higher Education, Nasima Badsha

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The academic year at the University of Stellenbosch Business School kicked off with its annual Academic Opening on 6 February 2020, under the theme of International Education. But while the business school is making remarkable headway in upping the ante with regards to the internationalisation of higher education, the evening’s keynote speaker did not ignore the obstacles that need to be overcome.

Nasima Badsha, who pioneered access, equity and social justice in the South African higher education system and played a key role in conceptualising a new higher education dispensation in the country, raised the question at the opening of the USB academic year function, with “in a rapidly changing global context how do we preserve the best aspects of internationalisation for future generations to enjoy?”

In a rapidly changing global context how do we preserve the best aspects of internationalisation for future generations to enjoy?

She said that internationalisation is closely related to the dynamic process of globalisation, implying the relationship between and amongst people, countries and systems and cultures. “Even though higher education takes many forms such as cross boarder movement of students and staff, research collaboration and joint degrees offered, internationalisation is threatened.”

She quoted from the provocative statements made recently by Philip Altbach and Hans de Wit who sited that Trumpism, Brexit and the rise of nationalist and anti-immigration policies in Europe is changing the landscape of global higher education, and that this fundamental shift in internationalisation means a re-thinking of the entire international project of universities world- wide is necessary.

Even though higher education takes many forms such as cross boarder movement of students and staff, research collaboration and joint degrees offered, internationalisation is threatened.

“Thankfully they do acknowledge that knowledge remains international and cross-national collaboration continues to increase. But a long side this they outline some challenges. They note an increase in problems pertaining to visas and an unwelcoming atmosphere for international students and staff across the UK and US. We are not immune to this in South Africa. We see visa delays of students and staff across the continent, and spites of Xenophobia.”

“There is an increasing disquiet about the dominance of English as the main language of scientific communication and scholarship – coming from the Netherlands, arguably one of the most internationally minded countries in the world, and in other countries, including Germany and Denmark, there is also debate about the negative impact of English on the quality of teaching.

There is an increasing disquiet about the dominance of English as the main language of scientific communication and scholarship.

She said another trend they highlighted concerns transnational education. A branch campus being established by the University of Groningen from the Netherlands, in Yantai, Shandong province in China, with China Agricultural University was suddenly cancelled by the university after protests by faculty and students due to possible limitations on academic freedom in China and lack of local consultation about the project.

“Chinese student groups in Australia and the Chinese government have been accused of trying to limit criticism of China and disrupt academic freedom. There has also been criticism, in Australia and elsewhere, of Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes for seeking to influence universities.”

In addition, she says, free intuition might also come to an end with Norway increasing visa fees for international students and critics claim that this might be a first step towards charging fees to international students. Two German states also have started to introduce fees for international students, a drastic break with the past.

“Altbach and De Witt acknowledge that although increasingly powerful political, economic and academic challenges poses a threat to the internationalisation process in Europe and North America, the non-Western world shows an increasing interest in internationalisation, even if there are some problems. China is becoming in many aspects academically closed, and India lacks relevant infrastructure, struggling to shape its academic structures to host large numbers of international students. South Africa and Brazil face serious political and economic instability that negatively affects the international focus that they had expanded over the past decade.”

Badsha concurred by adding that anecdotally fewer international students consider South Africa as an education provider post the student uprisings of 2015 and 2016.

“All these realities along with the growing threads of climate changes, and pandemic such as the Coronavirus, requires a serious re-thinking of our internationalisation approaches strategies, and the University of Stellenbosch Business School has an important leadership role to play in the discussion.”

The University of Stellenbosch Business School has an important leadership role to play in the [internationalisation] discussion.

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The SONA speech that President Ramaphosa will most probably not, but should be making

USB News

The SONA speech that President Ramaphosa will most probably not, but should be making

  • JAN 30
  • Tags SONA, USB Director, National Government, South Africa

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By USB Director and Professor, Prof Piet Naudé

Fellow South Africans

The annual State of the Nation address is an opportunity for me and my government to report back on previous commitments and set out our task for the coming 12 months.

Many of you have – quite rightly – become impatient at the slow pace of progress made on our promises of a ‘new dawn’. After serious introspection, I’ve realised that to resolve the many crises facing us – record unemployment, mismanaged and corrupt SOEs, collapsing municipalities acting with impunity, a failing education system for most of our scholars, and epidemic violence against women and children – require a different style of leadership. I am a consensus seeker. I like to let all around the table feel like winners after our negotiations.

This leadership was good for the transition to democracy in 1994 and for the constitution-writing process thereafter. But I’ve also realised that the very nature of a ‘crisis’ is that it requires immediate and effective action.

I am reminded of the fact that former President (of South Africa) FW de Klerk – present here tonight – did not consult his party and try and reach unity on the radical decision of 2 February 1990 to unban organisations and set political prisoners free. He acted by his conscience and risked the unity of his party for the sake of the greater good of all South Africans.

I therefore announce tonight that I am indeed the President of the Republic and the time has come to take decisive actions despite disunity on many matters in my own party and amongst alliance partners.

A wounded and dying patient needs urgent surgery. The pain inflicted in the short term by the sole decision-making surgeon, working in a trusted team, is the only chance for a longer term return to health.

It is now time to act.

  • Our public service at all three levels of government is bloated, inefficient and in some cases incompetent. Using international benchmarks appropriate for emerging economies, we will – with rare exceptions – immediately freeze the filling of vacancies and through a variety of measures (including reskilling for small enterprises) reduce the public sector wage bill with 8% per year over the next three years.
  • There are more than 750 enterprises owned and managed by the state. We have drawn up strict criteria for retention of sole state ownership. The most important question is whether an enterprise provides an essential public service and is able to stand on its own feet financially. Those that fall outside this narrow scope – including SAA, SA Express and Denel – will be disposed of in a rational manner and might include a minority state ownership where it makes financial sense (like with Telkom). We will – as the law stipulates – not interfere with business rescue decisions and will allow due process to run its course.
  • Eskom is a special case as it does provide an essential public and economic service. We all know the risk it currently poses to our entire economy. We have reached the end of bail-outs.

Five interventions will now start:

  1. To diminish overhead cost, a rational staff reduction process within the ambit of the law will bring staff numbers and remuneration within norms for a company of this nature and size within 24 months.
  2. Proposals for sustainable energy projects – in line with our Paris Agreement commitment – will open next month with additional electricity capacity added to the grid within 15 months.
  3. The unbundling process as announced will be accelerated and equity partners will be sought for the generation unit.
  4. A broad agreement between business, labor and government will be signed next month to deal with Eskom’s debt in a decisive and sustainable manner. It will require extraordinary once-off actions which the Minister of Finance will explain in his budget speech.
  5. Non-payment of electricity will be dealt with decisively. I warn many middle class township citizens, state departments, and municipalities that the culture of free-riding is over. There will be two forms of load shedding in future: Those necessitated by capacity constraints and those invited by non-payment.

I therefore announce that the Zondo Commission will cease to work in its current form. It will be replaced by a Truth and Re-compensation Commission over the next two years.

  • The scope and depth of state and corporate capture emanating from various commissions and reaching headlines on a daily basis are beyond normal legal pursuit and prosecution. I therefore announce that the Zondo Commission will cease to work in its current form. It will be replaced by a Truth and Re-compensation Commission over the next two years. All persons involved in corruption since 27 April 1994 are invited to come and make a full disclosure of their misdeeds with an agreement to repay whatever amount is possible. They will then receive amnesty. Those who hide or do partial disclosures will be liable for prosecution under existing law. All legal processes related to corruption that are currently under way, will continue as normal and are excluded from the new TRC.
  • My government is committed to a deeper and more efficient land reform programme. The constitutional amendment will continue, but any suggestion that decisions about compensation due to expropriation be taken by a political office bearer, will not be supported. We must respect the rule of law and we must start the land reform process with granting of title deeds to those living on state land; and by accelerating state land allocation for urban areas. I state this clearly: We do not foresee expropriation of active industrial areas or productive agricultural land and are encouraged by the growing cooperation and joint ownership between commercial and small-scale farmers.
  • Our economy is not growing fast enough and our tax revenue falls short of set targets. To get us over the fiscal cliff we face, we have agreed with listed companies that government will raise a tax on JSE share transactions. This revenue will be paid into a separate treasury account and only be used for capital projects and job creation executed in a public – private – partnership. This will increase accountability and efficiency and business will see where their money goes.

We must respect the rule of law and we must start the land reform process with granting of title deeds to those living on state land; and by accelerating state land allocation for urban areas.

These are some of the actions we plan. There will be resistance. But I have a duty to lead according to my conscience and for the sake of all South Africans.

Let us take hands. Tuna mina!

Your public servant,

Cyril Ramaphosa

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New decade, new developments

USB News

New decade, new developments

  • JAN 30
  • Tags 2020, USB Academic Staff, Appointments

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With the dawn of the 20s comes new staff appointments at USB

2020 has begun promisingly for the academic workforce at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). Following a formal interviewing process, several existing part-time academic staff members have been appointed in permanent positions as from 1 January this year.

Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, who recently became the first woman in South Africa to receive a PhD in Development Finance, was initially appointed as a full time lecturer, is now a senior lecturer at the business school. She explains the massive role her faith has played in her success, and also attributes much of her achievements to the support of her family.

“In 2006, God opened the doors for me to begin my MPhil in Development Finance. I could finally pursue answers to my questions of how we can use finance for development. It has been a journey of faith, even upon my return a decade later to embark on my doctorate. The support of my family and the guidance and love of my parents have been pivotal in reaching this achievement,” says Dr Moleko.

A true believer in a sustainable future for Africa, Dr Moleko is committed to moving the continent forward. “I will continue to strive to make South Africa and Africa an oasis of hope and land of fruitfulness, and will also encourage and enable those whom I teach to do the same,” she says.

Prof Renata Schoeman, psychiatrist and champion of the cause to raise awareness for ADHD, was appointed as Associate Professor at the business school. She reflects on how it all began.

“My USB journey started in 2013 as an MBA student, not knowing that my research project, under supervision of Prof Manie de Klerk, would eventually pave the way for being his successor as the head of the MBA Healthcare Leadership (HCL) stream,” says Prof Schoeman.

Today, she works to build on her achievements to help the university prosper and create benefit for others. “I trust that the two decades I’ve spent in the public and private healthcare arenas will help me take the HCL stream to an internationally recognised program that creates value for all students and stakeholders. I look forward to continuing my journey and expanding on my portfolio at USB,” she says.

Prof Brian Ganson is the Head of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement and an expert in socio-political risk management. He recently achieved full status as a Professor at USB. While this is undoubtedly an outstanding individual accomplishment, Prof Ganson is focused on how his appointment can benefit greater society.

“I see this appointment less as a recognition of me personally than of the pressing need to acknowledge, understand, and address the deep divisions that hold us back as individuals and societies, in the economic sphere and beyond. I’m proud to be part of a University investing in the imagination and implementation of new collaborative possibilities for Africa,” says Prof Ganson.

A special mention among these appointments includes Senior Lecturer Jako Volschenk, who has been appointed as the new MBA Head of Programme, replacing Dr Martin Butler. He highlights the hard work of his colleagues and affirms his ongoing commitment to achieving USB’s mission.

“USB’s Full-time MBA has been voted the best in Africa, and I believe this is true for the entire MBA programme. I also believe that USB is a leader in creating MBA students that become stewards of society through leadership. This did not happen by chance, and I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the entire USB team. I feel very honoured to head up the MBA programme and to continue to increase the USB’s reach and impact,” says Volschenk.

Previously a postdoctoral fellow at USB, Dr Armand Bam has now received a full-time appointment as the Head of Social Impact, and as Senior Lecturer in Business in Society at the business school. Dr Bam is also a member of MANCO and is responsible for leading USB’s social impact (SI) philosophy and strategy whilst overseeing the execution of the SI processes, programmes and projects.

Dr Bam’s longstanding relationship with Stellenbosch University and his affinity for working in the non-profit sector were key factors leading to his appointment at USB. “The opportunity to advance USB’s social impact attracted me to this challenge and I am looking forward to adding value where I can. My connection to [Stellenbosch University] stems back to 1995 when I started my undergraduate studies in human movement science. 25 years later, after service in the non-profit sector, I return to lead such a critical aspect of what we as a business school stand for, and hope to further shape the culture of social impact at USB,” says Dr Bam.

Prof Euan Phimister from Aberdeen Business School in Scotland, who is yet to embark on his journey at USB, will join the university on 1 June 2020 as Professor in Development Finance. His expertise lies in agricultural development economics. He is currently engaged in a significant research project on the African continent.

USB Director, Prof Piet Naudé, is optimistic about the new appointments and the value they will add at USB. “I look forward to the continued contribution of the new academic staff members to the intellectual and social impact work at USB, as well as to the more general context of Stellenbosch University,” says Prof Naudé.

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Global re-accreditation for quality of University of Stellenbosch Business School’s programmes

USB News

Global re-accreditation for quality of University of Stellenbosch Business School’s programmes

  • Dec 13
  • Tags Accreditation; EQUIS; European Foundation for Management Development; Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (ACCSB); Association of MBAs (AMBA)

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The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) has achieved the prestigious global re-accreditation EQUIS from the Belgian-based European Foundation for Management Development.

The accreditation is for five years, the highest term awarded, and this together with the re-accreditation achieved earlier this year from the USA-based Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (ACCSB) and the UK-based Association of MBAs (AMBA), puts the school in the company of some 86 schools worldwide with the Triple Crown of international accreditations.

Prof Piet Naudé, Director of USB, says this re-accreditation reinforces the University’s vision of being Africa’s leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent.

“EQUIS is a very significant international recognition of the quality of work done by USB, USB-ED and the Institute for Futures Research.

The fact that only three African-based business schools enjoy this accreditation and that USB is the only one with a full-term recognition, is the single most important indicator of USB’s international standing.

“Unlike rankings that operate on a narrow set of specific criteria, the EQUIS accreditation system evaluates the full spectrum of a school’s activities against global best practices. We are delighted and will use this recognition to continue our work to create business value for a better world.”

The accreditation agencies review business schools and their programmes from different angles.  EQUIS assesses business schools as a whole, including their programmes, internationalisation activities, research, corporate connections and social engagement.

The AACSB emphasises continuous quality improvement in business education across three dimensions: engagement, innovation and impact. AMBA’s accreditation criteria focus on every aspect of MBA provision, including the institution, faculty, curriculum and assessments.


A message from USB Director, Prof Piet Naudé

I am pleased and grateful to inform you that the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Council, convening in Brussels on 10 December, has re-accredited USB for a full five year term in terms of the EQUIS standards that cover all aspects of our School.

This successfully completes the “triple crown” re-accreditation cycle on my watch as Director and USB therefore remains a member of the exclusive group of less than 90 business schools around the world with this level of peer recognition.

I record my sincere gratitude to the staff in the USB cluster, the support from the University of Stellenbosch leadership, the commitment of our Advisory Board, and the endorsement from alumni and business associates.

Applications for USB’s triple accredited MBA programme for 2020 closes 10 January 2020. Apply today!

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