by Staff Reporter on 19/07/12 at 9:26 am
While much has been said about emerging markets, not much research has been done into the nature of such markets. To pioneer this research, an unusual partnership has emerged between the UCT Graduate School of Business and Old Mutual in the form of the Old Mutual Research Fellowship in Emerging Markets.
Old Mutual will sponsor four young PhD students with a specific interest in emerging market operations for an initial three years. An additional PhD bursary will also be made available for the same period. Preference will be given to previously disadvantaged students. Each of the researchers will be appointed at lecturer level, where they will work closely with senior members of faculty. The positions will be dedicated to research and the research supervision of master theses.
Professor Walter Baets, Director of the business school, said the themes of research will be agreed upon in cooperation with the Old Mutual Centre for Emerging Markets, and will be both useful to the company and suitable for academic publication.
“For Old Mutual, the research output will be of use as input for its strategy and operations in emerging markets,” said Baets. “For the GSB, the research capacity and the capacity for research supervision helps build the business school as a world centre for emerging market business, in line with its vision.”
Director of Corporate Affairs at Old Mutual, Crispin Sonn, said the decision to support such a fellowship with the GSB came out of a need to build on the company’s existing knowledge of emerging markets.
“As we’ve expanded into these markets around the world, we have gained insight into them through consulting firms and our own emerging market teams and our experiences as a company,” he said. He said that Old Mutual is expanding into Latin America, China, India, and different parts of Africa providing services and insight in those markets gained from over 160 years of business in South Africa.
“But we know that there are trends emerging, patterns, and we’d like to focus the research more intensely so as to better understand these trends and identify emerging opportunities. Old Mutual have had a long standing, well established relationship with the GSB and we know the quality of the research we require is the quality delivered by the school. They have an outstanding research track record,” he said.
The GSB strives to be a leading emerging market business school in research, teaching and outreach that is relevant, both internationally and locally. According to Baets the school is committed to building a new model for business schools; one that is grounded in values and based on the paradigm of the emerging market.
The GSB defines emerging as regions that experience high uncertainty, high complexity, and often excessive inequality.
“As much as this is true for what is classically called the emerging economies, such as Brazil, India and South Africa, uncertainty, complexity and inequality are also issues for businesses in developed yet turbulent economies.
“Emerging market thinking is therefore not a geographical construct. The whole world is operating within them and everybody needs to learn to operate successfully within them. Leaders need an expanded skill set that creates new models of business,” he said.
According to Baets, the financial crisis illustrates, that business as it has been done over the last few decades is unsustainable. The financial markets became the Holy Grail, and the concept of “the wealth of nations” was replaced by the concept of “the wealth of individuals”.
“Managers became more and more concerned with their share price and shareholder value in this context. Little focus was placed on risk or real return, but rather on volume. The decline of stakeholder importance is similarly apparent in the pursuit of ever cheaper labour,” he said.
In light of their role of training business leaders, business schools need to play their part in shifting this culture of business.
“Globally, business schools have begun to re-discuss value creation from a different perspective, and the GSB is playing a key part in this conversation,” said Baets.
To support the building of a new business school model, said Baets, more innovative research and insight into the characteristics of emerging markets is required, and a close partnership with business is pivotal.
“This type of research ideally takes place in close cooperation with the corporate world, and that is what the Old Mutual Research Fellowship will support,” he said. “Not only is this project contributing to the creation of innovative research; at the same time it prepares young academics, of previously disadvantaged groups, for a successful academic career.”
The new fellowships will boost GSB faculty, taking numbers up to 38 by end of the year. This is part of a wider emphasis on growing faculty, which in 2010 was at just 25.
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