SPL (School of Public Leadership)
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Re-imagining Public Servant Leadership in a post-capture, post-pandemic governance landscape.​​​

16-18 October 2023​

The School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University is proud to continue the International Winelands Conference series and tradition with its 17th edition. The main theme of the conference is focused on re-imagining public servant leadership.​

Conference Tracks/subthemes: 


Accountability plays a crucial role in public servant leadership, fostering a strong relationship between leaders and the public. In this track, we explore the multifaceted nature of accountability and its significance in maintaining trust and confidence in the public sector. As public leaders, it is essential to uphold accountability while also holding others accountable. Accountability, both as a virtue and a mechanism, shapes the expectations placed on public servant leaders. It encompasses responsibilities such as stewardship, serving others, and safeguarding the public's interests. As a mechanism, accountability ensures that these expectations are met systematically and addresses practical matters, including being answerable for one's actions.

Given the increasingly complex landscape of governance, public servant leaders face diverse and emerging challenges. From global pandemics and natural disasters to social justice movements, they must navigate these issues swiftly and effectively. However, with power comes the responsibility to be accountable for decisions and actions. In this track, we explore how servant leaders in the public sector can respond to the complex governance landscape. We encourage discussions on designing, adjusting, and developing mechanisms for accountable governance amidst complexity. Moreover, we aim to identify new incentives and approaches that promote accountability and rebuild trust among citizens.


Performance management has become a dominant force in public organizations, emphasizing planning, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting. However, progress towards development outcomes seems to decline, raising concerns about the effectiveness of performance measures. Recent scandals highlight the gap between communicated performance aims and actual results. The public sector faces pressure to provide more customer-centric services and achieve sectoral and systemic changes. Servant leaders must effectively manage performance at all levels to address complex challenges. The complexity of government structures and oversight bodies adds to the challenge. Despite intentions and efforts, performance stagnates and even deteriorates, impacting trust and the democratic project. In this track, we explore the factors driving this decline and propose alternative approaches to improve performance outcomes.
Governance (Public Policy, Sustainable Development, and Environmental Management)

The Governance track explores the vital role of effective governance in shaping a better society. It delves into the framework necessary for planning, implementing, and monitoring performance in key areas such as public policy, sustainable development, and environmental management. This track emphasizes the importance of governance structures and processes in fostering accountability, control, and responsible behavior within these domains.

Servant leaders in the public sector play a crucial role in strengthening governance structures. They are tasked with ensuring robust decision-making processes that have a positive impact on the future, even amidst complexity, emerging issues, and transitional periods. In an era where challenges often transcend national boundaries, finding a balance between top-down centralization and bottom-up decentralization within the public sector becomes essential. Leaders must also navigate nonlinear processes, evaluate the risks and opportunities presented by new technologies, and foster effective collaboration among the public sector, private sector, and civil society, both at home and on the global stage.

The limitations of traditional government systems have become evident with the emergence of larger-scale and more pervasive environmental problems. Governance goes beyond government institutions alone, addressing the broader challenge of economic and political coordination in society. Servant leaders in the public sector should prioritize strengthening governance structures to facilitate decision-making and coordination with other institutions and stakeholders. By doing so, concrete actions can be taken to address environmental constraints and respond to feedback from society​.

Novel ideas in Public Administration and Governance

The Novel Ideas in Public Administration and Governance track focuses on regulating AI in the public sector under 5IR conditions. Traditional paper-based systems are inadequate for meeting contemporary demands, but the development of digital technologies has improved management processes and outcomes. The use of AI in public sector management has yielded positive results, such as enhanced quality and efficiency. However, the emergence of fully-fledged AI systems has taken society by surprise, necessitating effective regulation to address potential risks and negative consequences. Lessons from past technological advancements, like nuclear technology, highlight the need for careful control and management of AI. Concerns about AI's potential to spiral out of control necessitate discussions on its direction and purpose, with a focus on promoting public wellbeing. Effective regulation and management are crucial for AI to be adopted as a mainstream tool in public sector contexts.
PhD/Emerging Researchers Workshop​

The Winelands PhD/Emerging Researchers Workshop provides an opportunity for students and emerging researchers to present their research projects and collaborate with established scholars. The workshop emphasizes concise presentations supported by PowerPoint slides. Face-to-face attendance is recommended, but presentations will be conducted in a hybrid mode. Research methodology seminars and problem-solving activities will be facilitated by leading experts. Submissions should focus on corruption and public servant leadership, exploring ethical leadership, institutional strengthening, technological innovations, whistleblower protection, and international cooperation. The research aims to enhance understanding and contribute to anti-corruption efforts, promoting accountability and transparency in the public sector.

*Please see the Conference Concept Note ​for the full information on each subtheme. 

​​​Call for papers:The academic committee is ex​cited to invite researchers to submit their abstracts for consideration as oral presentations.

The Conference tracks intend to invite papers and practice workshops that enable us to have a deeper understanding of the comparative ways in which leaders are responding to the challenges facing public services in the aforementioned context. They will help in better understanding the policies, systems, and practices that public services are putting into place to enable leaders to get the best out of the resources they have at their disposal and is specifically interested in insights into how public servant leaders have redefined their role and purpose in the aftermath of the pandemic, along with the additional demands of social and economic changes that their constituencies and areas face.

We are keen to bring together academic scholars, researchers, and practitioners to promote meaningful debate about future-facing strategies, mechanisms, and methods for harnessing the best of leadership capabilities and approaches that can equip public servant leaders to implement their vision, goals, and priorities, and that facilitate effective followership and effective public services delivery. We would like to use this debate to construct a new leadership paradigm that fits the times and the challenges public service faces and will face in the years ahead.​​

​​​The academic committee has extended the final paper submissions to be ready by the 11 November 2023

Conference Fees

R 6,000 for early bird 

R 6,500 for late registrations

R 4,500 for full time students providing proof of registration & registered postgraduate students presenting papers

For a day pass please email at winelands@spl.sun.ac.za.​


If you are interested in sponsoring this exciting conference, a social function of the conference, or one of the parallel sessions, please feel free to contact us at winelands@spl.sun.ac.za. 

Accommodation and Transport

Delegates are responsible for arranging their own accommodation and transportation during the conference. Visit https://www.visitstellenbosch.org/stay/ for accommodation options and https://uber-rates-stellenbosch-za.uber-fare-estimator.com/ for Uber fare estimates.

Important Dates​​​

​Call for Papers and Abstract Submissions Open
​​​13 March 2023
​Second Announcement
​10 May ​2023
​Registrations Open
​10 May 2023
​Abstract Submissions Close
​31 July 2023
​Third Announcement
14 August 2023
​Early Bird Cut-off date
​25 Aug​​ust 2023
Late registrations closure​​
06 October 2023​​


The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS)

​10 Marias Rd, Mostersdrift​ Stellenbosch, South Africa


Conference Secretariat:

  • Mr Pereka Matala – Banda
  • +27 21 918 4122
  • winelands@spl.sun.ac.za​



Click here for instructions

How to Register for the conference

Click here to register for the conference​


Closing date for the submission of abstracts is 31 July 2023, please click on the abstract submission tab below to submit your Abstract: