Director: Professor Walter Baets
Considering critically the causes of the last financial crisis, one can say that "business as usual" is no longer the way to achieve sustainable success. The classical approach to business that we have seen over the last few decades does not appear to work. This means that in their turn, business schools need to be autocritical and rethink what they offer to the world, including their research agenda.
The consensus at the Global Forum for Responsible Management Education in December 2008, held at the UN Headquarters was that sustainable principles in management should address a number of domains: the spiritual, the biosphere, the social, the economic and the material (materials, energy), and this in a systemic way. What in effect is called for is a systems thinking approach in management education and research that imbues students and managers with an understanding of the complex, interconnected world around them and the impact of their decisions on this world, as well an understanding that their own success is linked to the success of those around them.
Therefore, the UCT GSB is focusing its energies on becoming a business school based on the paradigm of the emergent economy and this focus also shows in research. An emergent economy means an economy with high degrees of uncertainty, high degrees of complexity and, unfortunately, often high degrees of inequality, that call for societal responsibility. At a launch conference in November 2009, the GSB has announced to bring all their research into one centre: The Centre for Emergent Market Business. Other than most B-Schools that develop via a few strong disciplinary faculty groups (finance, marketing, strategy, etc), the GSB develops its academic excellence in one centre on Emergent Market Business, having the faculty working on five transversal themes.
· Governance in Emergent Market Economies: dealing with the impact on strategy and economic development of state capacity, labour relations, environment and human rights and the practical experiences and conditions of expanding in emergent market conditions.
· Diversity, Culture and Dynamics: attempts to adapt western perspectives to emergent markets. It deals with marketing in societies in transition, strategies, structures and processes to achieve sustained performance under uncertainty, cultural diversity and its link to leadership and finally the wider transformation issues in society.
· Entrepreneurial Development and Sustainable Business: with a high focus on the importance of education, information and communication technologies, financing opportunities and inclusion, the aim of this theme is to research the development of entrepreneurial activity and entrepreneurial skills. This theme contributes to the Worldwide study in Entrepreneurship (GEM: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, directed by the London Business School)
· Development, Innovation and Technology: this theme develops around the role of lean thinking, action learning and systemic management practices in enhancing development in emergent market conditions. Technology is researched as a source for innovation, and innovation as a source for progress and development.
· Infrastructure Reform and Regulation: is a theme of expertise in the wider African region, focussing on building capacity to manage reform and regulation of infrastructure sectors like electricity, water, gas, transport and telecom.
These research themes require diverse methodological approaches that include quantitative (regression, structural equations, latent class analysis, Bayes estimation, neural networks) and qualitative research (action learning, case studies, in-depth interviews, grounded theory).