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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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Green

Coming clean on faking green

USB News

Coming clean on faking green

Green

  • June 03
  • Tags Greenwashing, Marketing, Sustainability, Consumers, Research

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Terms such as “environmentally friendly”, “organic”, and “natural” or “pure” are popping up on marketing campaigns across the world, all trying to attract the attention of the growing environmentally conscious consumer. However, many product manufacturers are guilty of ‘greenwashing’ – misleading consumers into believing they are purchasing green products, when in fact they are buying into marketing claims, writes Dr Jako Volschenk.

Terms such as “environmentally friendly”, “organic”, and “natural” or “pure” are popping up on marketing campaigns across the world for products that range from shampoo to soft drinks, all trying to attract the attention of the growing environmentally conscious consumer.

However, many product manufacturers are guilty of ‘greenwashing’ – misleading consumers into believing they are purchasing green products, when in fact they are buying into marketing claims. Much research exists to show that greenwashing can help companies achieve higher prices for its products, even when the claims they make are false.

Many companies are faced with intense competition which forces them to continuously differentiate themselves and their products from industry rivals – and green credentials has become that very source of differentiation. However, many of the claims are either ambiguous or deceptive, promoting products by falsely overstating their green product attributes.

Misleading, vague statements, or absent information are often the method of choice and a recent research study we conducted, indicates good news for companies that tell the truth clearly, while it sends a warning to those who bend the truth.” A recent study we conducted amongst 481 consumers across diverse demographic and region profiles showed three interesting trends.

When uninformed consumers are asked to choose between conventional products and green-branded products, they are generally willing to pay a premium for green-branded products regardless of whether the claim is true or not. And when consumers are informed to spot greenwashing, truly green products maintain a premium position.

But the research made an interesting finding relating to false claims. When consumers are able to spot greenwashing they seem to penalise greenwashed products by instituting a ‘greenwash penalty’, meaning that their willingness to pay drops even below that of the conventional product.

The greenwash penalty is not a statement of doubt in the quality of a product but rather an expression of distrust in the brand, driving consumers to rather opt for a product that makes no claim than one that makes fake claims. So how should companies communicate true green status?

Green companies must firstly commit itself to educating consumers about the potential of misleading or false information. This could be done at an intra-industry level to lower costs to individual companies, but requires alignment within the industry.

Once consumers are able to spot greenwashing attempts, true green companies should then provide true and transparent information about their own products. This second practice should be done at individual company level if green attributes can provide a price premium. One way to provide information that consumers can trust is by showing certification by a reputable environmental standards agency. The fishing industry, for instance, make use of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label to distinguish companies that go the extra mile to limit the environmental impact of their activities.

The third requirement is that companies should make sure that their reputation is watertight in other aspects too. There is little sense in claiming a product has a lower environmental footprint when it is dangerous for human health in other respects. Organic cigarettes may tick the green box, but its health impact would be open to attack if it tried to gain any market advantage from its organic status.

There are hardly any products without some environmental impact. But if you have a negative impact in any way, it may be wise to stay clear of expecting consumers to pay a premium for your product. Rather just aim to place your product ahead of the rest by showing you are attempting to limit some negative aspects and being transparent about your impact on the environment.

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‘Africapitalism – imagining the future of capitalism in Africa'

USB News

‘Africapitalism – imagining the future of capitalism in Africa’

  • MAY 13
  • Tags AHouse of Beautiful Business, Arts, Business, Academia

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“Africa has not fully enjoyed the positive aspects, or benefits of capitalism. In Africa capitalism has been a negative force, integrating the continent into the international economy in a position of subservience.” This is the view of Dr Njeri Mwagiru, a senior futurist at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), based at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). She was one of the speakers at the inaugural Chamber of Beautiful Business Cape Town, co-hosted by USB and The House of Beautiful Business. The speakers explored the future of African Capitalism.

Mwagiru says the introduction of capitalism into Africa historically, and the continent’s integration into global capitalism has been in terms of extraction of value and exploitation. The impacts of capitalist imperialism have been corrosive.

Today, the continent is attracting international interests as a growth frontier of capitalism, with expanding markets and gradually stabilising democracies.

But, she says, Africa’s current form of capitalism still allows the extraction of value without adding corresponding value to society. Crony capitalism that benefits an elite few, weak regulatory institutions and virulent fraud drain away opportunities for social advancement and prosperity.

“Our current implementation of capitalism continues to depend on the exploitation of people and natural resources, and is deeply responsible for a disproportionate distribution of income and wealth.”

There are variations in capitalist models in different regions from laissez faire to government interventionist approaches. “There are mixed models of capitalism around the world, and Africa needs one that addresses its entrenched challenges and caters for its unique advantages,” she says.

Speaking on how Africans can reshape capitalism to gain more benefits for the continent, Mwagiru discussed Africapitalism, a term coined by Nigerian banker Tony Elumelu. According to Mwagiru, an Africapitalism perspective may offer a different form of capitalism for Africa.

“Africapitalism puts Africa and its people at the centre of economic growth and development in the region. Its purpose is to benefit the wider community, prioritising the common good over pure profit motives.”

Africapitalism “requires effective coordination between business, government, and civil society, meeting market demands and collective human needs, rather than driving only self-interest”.

According to Mwagiru making changes in the way capitalism operates in Africa today involves entrepreneurs and corporations.

“The private sector must be involved in the business of sustainable development. The business of development is not for the initiative of governments, donor countries and humanitarian organisations alone.”

For the continent to realise prosperity, it will need the drive of business, require government support, and depend on genuine engagement from communities.

Mwagiru says, “let us recalibrate how we do business, and direct the energy of capitalism more positively, to meet the development needs of Africans.”

Imagining the future of capitalism in Africa, includes exploring how Africans can create a more optimal system. The notion of Africapitalism is offered as a way to shape economic growth and prosperity with collective benefits.

More about The House of Beautiful Business

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) is proud to be the first in South Africa to co-host this international series of gatherings with The House of Beautiful Business, which was founded to explore the human future of business.

Produced and hosted by The Business Romantic Society the House of Beautiful Business is a global think tank and community; it is a unique space created to humanise work in the age of machines. As an event and thought leadership platform it builds and cultivates a global community of leaders who are inspired to shape a more human way of doing business.

For more information, visit https://houseofbeautifulbusiness.com/

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SBA: New intake starts in Eastern Cape

USB News

USB’s Small Business Academy: new intake starts classes in Eastern Cape

  • OCT 27
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

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In an effort to fight the challenges of poverty and unemployment, and the remoteness of rural Eastern Cape, USB’s Small Business Academy (SBA) has partnered for the second year with the Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency (JoGEDA) to offer sponsored business development support to small business owners in the area.

Last year, the SBA programme assisted our first group to run their enterprises with structure, have a clear plan and greater understanding of the potential of their individual businesses. The results so far have been outstanding.

– Mr Ayanda Gqoboka, CEO of JoGEDA

The group of 26 small businesses from Aliwal North, Sterkspruit, Lady Grey, Ugie, Burgersdorp and Maclear embarked this week on their nine month journey which aims to strengthen the sustainability of their businesses and bridge the much needed gap for business education. The programme covers from training in general management, finance, marketing, computer skills, and business plan development, to personal development, practical workshops and a mentorship by an MBA graduate of USB.

Mr Ayanda Gqoboka, Chief Executive Officer of JoGEDA says that the partnership has demonstrated in 2017 the immense change that is possible.

“JoGEDA was established to drive enterprise development in the region and through the partnership with USB and the SBA programme we are now moving closer to ensure better business cohesion and support for entrepreneurs. We could not have managed this programme without the partnership and USB’s SBA programme assisted our first group last year to run their enterprises with structure, have a clear plan and greater understanding of the potential of their individual businesses. The results so far have been outstanding and we look forward in growing this initiative.”

Mr Gqoboka says that more than 35% of the population is unemployed in the district.

“The district suffers from lack of investment and business knowledge platforms, the negative impact of increased migration of people in search for employment opportunities in urban centers and metropolitan areas. We see the daily struggle of small businesses in the area operating as survivalist businesses, and we are strategically combating these key challenges through the SBA partnership.”

Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener, Head of the SBA programme, said that they look forward in being part of another successful year in shaping new leaders within the Eastern Cape communities.

“Many SMMEs don’t survive their first years due to a lack of business knowledge, the inability to create a business plan and poor market research amongst other. As a business school USB aims to give life to its vision of having a meaningful impact in society.

“By extending the SBA programme, which has been running successfully in the Western Cape for five years, for the second year to rural Eastern Cape, we will be able to have a greater impact on the lives and livelihood of the district.”

The SBA Development Programme is sponsored by JoGEDA, ECDC, DEDEAT and USB.



​Attending the opening of the second intake of USB’s Small Business Academy programme for small business owners from the Eastern Cape are (from left) Ayanda Gqoboka (CEO of JOGEDA), Thabo Machine, Executive Mayor Zibonele Dumzela, Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener (Head of the USB SBA programme), Nthabiseng Booi and Ace Nonjola. ​

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