Graduate School of Economic & Management Sciences
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

2021 Research Themes - GEM

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

University of Stellenbosch Business School:

Department website


  • Theme 1: 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.
  • Theme 2: 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. Research in this area may integrate with the ACDS's ongoing research initiative on SMEs in the context of urban violence.
  • Theme 3: “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.
  • Theme 4: Carbon pricing mechanisms for mitigating climate change
    • Determining consumers (or suppliers) willingness-to-pay South Africa's new carbon tax.
      • Investigating environmental (or green) impact investing in emerging markets, e.g. 
      • Climate finance and green investments
      • Implications for institutional investors' asset allocation
      • The increasing importance of green bonds
      • Financial performance of listed companies who participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project
    • Evaluating the impact of a carbon tax on any of the following sectors: Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU); Oil and gas; Electricity; Mining; Construction; Transport - *Note: case studies on particular businesses, industries or value chains can also be considered.
    • Promoting renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa through carbon pricing mechanisms.
    • Examining policy instruments for greening the economy in a post-COVID-19 era.
    • Towards a Green New Deal for South Africa – Exploring the Intersect of Covid-19 and Climate Change.
  • Theme 5: The role of agriculture in climate change mitigation
    • How would Sub-Saharan Africa's (or select specific countries for comparison) mitigation targets affect the agricultural sector's productivity, competitiveness and food security?
    • Investigating carbon farming as a potential solution for [Note: 'carbon farming' may be interchanged with 'green agriculture', 'regenerative agriculture', 'sustainable agriculture' and 'decarbonising agriculture'​]:
      • climate change mitigation
      • food security
      • enhancing biodiversity

​School for Public Leadership:

Department website

  • Theme 1: Collaborative Governance and Urban Ecosystem Restoration
  • Theme 2: Human Person and Global Environmental Governance
  • Theme 3: Corruption


Department website

  • Theme 1: Regional economics: including sub-themes in spatial inequality, food security and agriculture, historical persistence, service delivery 
  • Theme 2: Universal basic income – is it appropriate and fiscally viable for South Africa? 
  • Theme 3: Maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Theme 4: Social Protection in Africa
  • Theme 5: Living standards, social mobility and slavery in the Dutch and British Cape Colony [This research project use innovative matching algorithms to combine annual tax censuses with probate inventories and auction rolls to investigate the economic development of the Dutch and British Cape Colony during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.]
  • Theme 6: Bargaining models and their application to merger simulation
  • Theme 7: Quantitative models of competition in digital platform markets
  • Theme 8: The evolution of public debt and fiscal-monetary interactions
  • Theme 9: Macro-prudential policy
  • Theme 10: Indigenous Economics: Understanding the role of indigenous African populations in African economic development in history
  • Theme 11: The role of identity and double binds in education and labour market outcomes

Bureau for Economic Research:

Department website

  • [Theme 1] Economics and data science
    • ​Motivation: New technologies have made available vast quantities of digital text, recording an ever-increasing share of human interaction, communication, and culture. For social scientists, the information encoded in text is a rich complement to the more structured kinds of data traditionally used in research. This has led to an explosion in empirical economic research that utilizes text data as inputs in economic modelling. The bursary offers an excellent opportunity to any student who is interested in using a novel dataset of newspaper articles spanning 10 years to answer traditional economic questions.​
    • Education
      • Masters in Economic, Statistics or Operational Research. (For a PhD student)
      • Strong focus in econometric/statistical modelling.
      • Proficient in writing and reading in English.

    • Technical skills and interests
      • Comfortable with R and/or Python programming.
      • Familiarity with tools like Rstudio (rmarkdown) and github for reproducible research is advantageous.
      • Interest in natural language processing and associated techniques (e.g. n-grams, corpora, lemmatization, topic modelling), especially sentiment analysis.

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

  • Theme 1: Psychology in Healthcare (Medical Practitioner competency models, measurement of psychological constructs and psychological intervention development) 
  • Theme 2: Career Counselling in Secondary Education
  • Theme 3: The Job Demands-Resources Model and the bright and dark sides of personal internet-use-at-work
  • Theme 4: Measurement of vocational interests in the African context. [Predictive validity of vocational interests with respect to academic achievement in the African context.]

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.

  • Theme 1: Investment Management
  • Theme 2: Financial Management
  • Theme 3: The Management of Innovation

Logistics – Transport Economics:

Department website

  • Theme 1: ​Travel Behaviour and data analytics:
    • 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 transport and travel behaviour data
    • The impact of the shared economy on vehicle ownership and use
  • Theme 2: Transport and Economic Development:
    • 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
    • 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.
  • Theme 3: Road user charging and support for distance-based user charges in a developing country context. 
    • ​​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 dis​tance-based road user charges in a developing country context
      • Determine the public support of distance-based road user charges