Graduate School of Economic & Management Sciences
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Research Themes 2019

​​​​​​Scroll down for research themes listed under each academic department .

University of Stellenbosch Business School:

Department website

1. Corporate governance. Sub-themes: independence, diversity, accountability​.

2. Corporate responsibility. Sub-themes: shared value versus collective value, transparency​.

3. Social marketing (non-profit marketing) communication to alter consumer behaviour.

4. Digital marketing (Social media) and brand strategy – the new digital consumer’s behaviour.

5. Financial stability.

6. Financial inclusion and inclusive growth.

7. Busting the myths around technology usage in the African market: From Entrepreneurs to consumers.​

8. The Digital Divide: To better understand what the “digital divide" looks like in South Africa and how access to technology influences key social and economic outcomes, including skills development and technological unemployment.  ​

9. EduScrum and EdTech: Various topics including:

  • If and how online learning platforms can facilitate “deep learning".
  • Applying agile development principles and the scrum methodology to education in South Africa.

10. Platform as a service: How platforms can be used to facilitate and enhance customer service encounters. Alternatively, in the collaborative consumption context, how platforms are effectively used to link two markets (e.g. Uber that links drivers with passengers, or AirBnB), and what value is created.​

11. Online Consumer Behaviour: To better understand how social media is used to 1) build / maintain relationships, and 2) build / maintain a person's image / identity.​

12. Responsible, sustainable and ethical entrepreneurial product development based on African Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

13. Creation of an enabling environment for African game design startup ecosystems.

14. The rise in veganism and how African entrepreneurs can engage.​

15. The Impact of Block chain Technology on Access To finance  and Firm Performance.

16. The Adoption of Block Chain Technology and its Impact on MSMES.

17. Challenges and Opportunities for Block Chain Technology  and Entrepreneurship in Africa.

18. Performance Evaluation of Family Business.

19. Performance Evaluation and Bench marking of SMES across Different Sectors.

20. Impact of Microfinance on MSMES performance in Africa.

21. Entrepreneurial Development and FDI Flows.

22. Interlinkages between the Insurance Sector and Financial Sector Development.

23. Greening Sub-Saharan economies through tax incentives.

24. Mitigating climate change - how do corporate strategies differ?

25. Determinants of corporate climate change disclosure for South African listed companies.

26. What can we learn from Nelson Mandela on leadership.

27. Applying business science theories to improve research​.

28. Responsible management education and responsible management in organisational practice​​.

University of Stellenbosch Business School

International Centre for Transformational Entrepreneurship (Coventry University)​:

The following themes are joint research themes between the University of Stellenbosch Business School &  the International Centre for Transformational Entrepreneurship at Coventry University. Successful applicants under these themes will be registered for a joint-doctoral degree at both institutions. Candidates will primarily be based in Stellenbosch and will spend time at Coventry University during their second year of study.

1. Exploring approaches to managing transformation by entrepreneurs in a volatile African (sub-Saharan) ​context.

2. Identifying suitable strategies in educational entrepreneurship development in Sub-Sahara Africa.

3. How coaching and/or mentoring can support transformational entrepreneurships in Africa.

4. Development finance and transformational entrepreneurship.

School for Public Leadership:

Department website

1. ​Good governance, integrity, accountability and combating corruption.

2. Environmental Management


Department website

1. Changing human behaviour on South African roads.

2. Female political representation in Africa.

3. The empirical and theoretical analysis of collusion.

4. The economics of antitrust and competition policy enforcement.

5. Monetary fiscal mix in the post-crisis era.

6. Capital flows and controls.

7. Inflation expectations and/or Central bank communication. [A wide range of empirical methods could be used, including: Social network analysis; Content​ analysis (machine learning to analyse text)​] Specific foci could include

  • The interaction between communication about price stability and financial stability.​
  • Trying to understand/explore the structure of the expectations channel of the monetary transmission mechanism ie who influences the final message about inflation and monetary policy received by the general public and how do they do so?

8. A study on the role of the central bank in achieving financial stability. The application should focus specifically on interplay between efforts to achieve both price and financial stability. [Applicants are welcome to propose the use of a range of methodological approaches, including: econometric methods; modelling approaches such as DSGE​]

9. Local government revenue sources: a comparative study of developing  economies.

10. Taxation and economic development in developing countries.

11. African economic history.

12. The economics of slavery in nineteenth-century South Africa.

13. Labour.

14. Economics of Education.

15. Economics of Health.

16. Monitoring Sub-Saharan social change with longitudinal surveys and remote-sensed images.

17. Anthropometrics over the life course.

18. Analysing large-scale local and international assessment data. ​Students interested in analysing the large-scale international assessment data such as SACMEQ, PASEC, TIMSS, PIRLS, PISA etc. Issues of sampling, policy-relevant questions, psychometrics, translation etc.​

Statistics and Actuarial Science:

Department website

​1. African Music Information Retrieval: Music information retrieval (MIR) is an interdisciplinary and growing field of research, concerned with computational techniques for analysing, summarising, indexing and classifying music data.  A key problem in MIR is classification; for instance, the classification of music by genre or mood, or the automatic recognition of instruments playing in an audio clip.  While this is a vibrant field of research, most studies focus on Western music.  Current research on ethnic music is mostly limited to Eastern music, and very few studies have considered African music.  Depending on the candidate and the availability of data, potential problems that could be studied are:

  • The automatic classification of traditional African instruments in archival African music recordings.
  • Classification of traditional African music by mood (potentially also exploring the cultural differences in emotions evoked by music).
  • Genre / geographical classification of traditional African music.

​Industrial Psychology:

Department website

Please note that a recognized master's degree with Industrial Psychology or Human Resource Management as a major is a requirement to qualify for admission to the doctoral programme at the department of Industrial Psychology

1. Leadership, leadership development and executive coaching in organisations.

2. Student Success.

3. Consumer decision making and consumption behaviour.

4. Personality and interpersonal aspects of counterproductive work behaviour.

5. Cross-cultural aspects of vocational personality types and career interests in Africa.

6. Cross-cultural aspects of personality assessment in Africa.

7. Employee well-being and organisational effectiveness.

8. Applying the Job Demands-Resources Model to understand the bright and dark sides of personal internet use at work​.

Logistics – Transport Economics:

Department website

1. Rail Economics: 

  • Rail infrastructure investment, regional integration and trade facilitation in Sub Sahara Africa.
  • A critical examination of  private rail operations and business models  in Sub Sahara Africa.​

2. Travel Behaviour

  • The impact of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) on individual travel behaviour and travel behaviour analysis
  • ​​ Using smartphones and other geospatial technology to source and analyse travel behaviour data and promote sustainable travel decision making among commuters.
  • The impact of the shared economy on vehicle ownership and use.

3. Urban Transport Economics

  • Promoting sustainable urban land use and transport development through Transport Oriented development (TOD's): A case for Century City in Cape Town.
  • Monocentric urban form versus polycentric urban form: Benefits and costs for alternative transport options .

4. Transport and Economic Development:

  • Unpacking the relationship between transport and economic development with quantitative economic models. Developed a strategic macro-economi​c model to assess the direct and indirect impacts of policy or structural changes within the transport industry.

5. Land Transport Funding:

  • ​​ ​Funding for land transport infrastructure: New road user charging options for road funding

Business Management:

Department website

At the department of Business Management, the emphasis is on basic research and not on applied research. We do not accept students whose sole purpose is to address a company-related problem.

Admittance to the PhD programme requires a highly-specialised academic background including under-graduate qualifications. It is are thus not suitable to potential candidates with a more a more 'general' (non-specialisation) academic background.

1.       Marketing Management

2.       Entrepreneurship

3.       Investment Management

4.       Financial Management

5.       Strategic Management​