Graduate School of Economic & Management Sciences
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Research Themes - 2021 intake

2020 Call for applications have closed. 

Due to the large number of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Applicants that have not received communication from the Graduate School Office by the 16th of October 2020, should please consider their applications as ​unsuccessful.

The call for applications for the 2022 intake will open in June/July of 2021

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

University of Stellenbosch Business School:

Department website


  1. Digital resilience
  2. Positive identity processes for women working in male-dominated environments
  3. Feminist forms of organising (organisational forms)
  4. Women's representation at board level – beyond lamenting low numbers
  5. Women at work in Africa / African women at work
  6. Gender issues in leadership
  7. Emotional intelligence and leadership
  8. Diversity in management
  9. Disability and workplace inclusion
  10. Non-profit management and leadership
  11. Social impact/ Corporate Social Responsibility and Community engagement
  12. The political economy of conflict: macro level perspectives. Working within a systems framework at the national or sub-national level to develop new understandings of the inter-relationships among the private sector, conflict, and development in the African context.
  13. The political economy of conflict: micro level perspectives. Working within a systems framework at the neighbourhood or municipal level to develop new understandings of the inter-relationships among the private sector, conflict, and development in the African context, with a particular focus on SMEs. Research in this area may integrate with the ACDS's ongoing research initiative on SMEs in the context of urban violence.
  14. “Listening in" on conflict. PhD opportunities to work with the ACDS Conflict Barometer initiative, a sophisticated analytic tool that relies on complex querying of relational databases, including automated textual analyses, to provide better understanding and prediction of conflict dynamics. Candidates from a variety of backgrounds may propose work at the intersection of conflict, data science, and textual analysis.
  15. Marketing Communication
  16. Marketing Strategy and Branding
  17. Consumer Behaviour
  18. Application of artificial intelligence in human resource management / management learning
  19. Leadership coaching
  20. Neuroscience (leadership, decision-making)
  21. Healthcare leadership
  22. Resilience (personal, leadership, organizational)


  1. Issues in Financial sector development in Africa and emerging markets (It can be a country-specific study or a multi-country study)
  2. Structural Economic transformation and inclusive growth in Africa (It can be a country-specific study or a multi-country study)
  3. Remittances and the political economy in Africa
  4. The link between bank exposure, leadership and firm survival

Statistics and Actuarial Science:

Department website

  1. Dynamic Bayesian Models for Disease Forecasting in South Africa (see an example ​of an application in the USA)


School for Public Leadership:

Department website

  1. Civil Society Responses to the Pandemic: The COVID-19 People's Coalition and the Progressive Economists of South Africa. [Note: The Coalition is a holocracy - decentralized management and organizational governance, in which authority and decision-making are distributed throughout self-organizing teams rather not vested in a management hierarchy. This has profound implications for governmentality, governance and public policy]
  2. The Public Policy for Poverty and the Public Policy for Pandemics. [Note:  For decades, more people in the south have been dying of hunger, malnutrition and tuberculosis, etc. and recently HIV-Aids (this is all true for SA at this very moment according to Stats SA – early April.) than the virus. Why is C-19 a humanitarian crisis and others not. And this is a complex political economy of public policy tale. The national public health systems in developing countries frames the study.]
  3. Pandemics, Structural Violence and Public Policy. [Note: Is informed by the finding that the deaths from secondary impacts — poverty, hunger, diseases, and violence exacerbated by the pandemic — may dwarf the number of those who die of the coronavirus itself. What role for public policy – if any role as it is the key agent and driver of structural violence. The analytical frame for this study is a feminist and gender perspective]
  4. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Africa: economic, social, environmental, governance or gender dimensions
  5. The Fourth Industrial Revolution in a post-Covid-19 Pandemic World: Opportunities and risks for the economy, society and the environment
  6. Bridging the Digital Divide in South Africa: creating an inclusive digital economy
  7. Digital democracy, government and the rise of surveillance capitalism: Developing Country Public Policy Perspectives
  8. Corruption
  9. Gender, Diversity and Transformation
  10. Public Trust, Ethics and Leadership in addressing Corruption
  11. Environmental Governance, Global Social and Economic Order and the Human Person
  12. The governance and environmental economic feasibility of the renewable energy-agricultural nexus 


Department website

  1. The construction of a historical macroeconomic indicators for South Africa, 1520-2020
  2. A quantitative investigation into the 1918 Spanish influenza in South Africa: evidence from death certificates
  3. An experimental approach towards the improvement of traffic regulations
  4. Machine learning techniques, including algorithms for text analysis, with application to competition law decisions (consistent with new projects at the CCLE studying price-gouging and excessive pricing, as well as merger control in South Africa, the EU, the US and other jurisdictions in a post-Covid-19 context)
  5. Structural and/or reduced-form modelling approaches to identifying buyer power and price discrimination transgressions of South African and international competition law (with special application to intertemporal studies or studies focused on post-Covid-19 behaviour)
  6. Game-theoretic models of anti-competitive behaviour (not covered under Research theme 5) with application to vertical collusion or abuse of multi-sided platform power
  7. Financial stability in South Africa. Empirical analysis using bank level data
  8. Macroeconomic policy and inequality in South Africa. Constructing a heterogenous agent model to look at the potential distributional impact of monetary and ​fiscal policy
  9. Tax revenue mobilisation options in African countries – tax policy reform
  10. Sovereign Spillovers in Emerging Markets, including the following sub-topics:
    • The effect and persistence of sovereign debt ratings.
    • Fiscal multipliers, debt dynamics (sources of financing), and automatic stabilizers
    • Fiscal policy coordination.


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. Job insecurity and psychological well-being. 
  2. Psychology in Healthcare (Medical Practitioner competency models, measurement of psychological constructs and psychological intervention development)
  3. Career Counselling in Secondary Education


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 thus not suitable to potential candidates with a more a more 'general' (non-specialisation) academic background.

  1. Investment Management
  2. Financial Management
  3. The Management of Innovation

Logistics – Transport Economics:

Department website

  1. ​Travel Behaviour and data analytics:
    1. The impact of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) on individual travel behaviour and travel behaviour analysis
    2. Using smartphones and other geospatial technology to source and analyse transport and travel behaviour data
    3. The impact of the shared economy on vehicle ownership and use
  2. Transport and Economic Development
    1. Quantifying the macroeconomic cost of physical distribution: Past trends and prospects for physical distribution costs.
      • Influence of e-commerce of physical distribution costs
      • Long term trend in distribution costs as a result of an increase in energy and labour costs
    2. Quantifying the relationship between the transport sector and economic development for South Africa.
      • Developed a strategic macro-economic model to quantify the linkages between the transport sector and other economic sectors.
      • The model will provide transport policymakers and decision-makers a tool to assess the relationships between the broader macro-economy and the various components of the transport sector.
  3. Road user charging and support for distance-based user charges in a developing country context
    1. Using location aware technology to determine, allocate and recoup road user cost:
      • Economic benefit / theory of distance-based road charging as alternative to fuel-based taxation measures
      • Assess technical feasibility of distance-based road user charges in a developing country context
      • Determine the public support of distance-based road user charges​