The Harvard Business School (HBS) Alumni Club of South Africa and the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) have announced the investment of R2 million for the development of African-focused business learning materials.
The collaboration between the two top business schools will see the development of emerging market-focused business learning material that will contribute to the ‘decolonisation’ of the business school curriculum locally.
A case study centre, based at the GSB, will be established and will be dedicated to assisting academics on both sides of the Atlantic to write case studies and develop relevant teaching materials that are focused on African realities.
“What is still missing in African business schools is relevant local material, specifically cases on doing business in emerging market economies and the various challenges that this presents,” said Professor Walter Baets, GSB director.
A case study editor who will be responsible for assisting academics at the GSB to generate and publish peer-reviewed business case studies for the MBA and other postgraduate programmes will be appointed for a period of three years.
The case studies will provide African students more relevant content. The cases developed will also be sold to business schools around the world that are eager to learn more about doing business in emerging markets.
The need for African business case studies and teaching materials has been on the agenda of many teaching institutions on the continent for some time.
The issue was extensively discussed in January 2016 at the African Academy of Management Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. At the event, there was much talk about how to go about developing local teaching materials as well as a decolonisation of the curriculum.
The participants were of the opinion that there is simply too much of a focus on Western case studies and textbooks.
Although many agree these Western materials are excellent study tools, they were also of the opinion that they are inadequate in preparing future business leaders on the African continent.
Harvard alumnus Ewald Wessels commented, “Drilling for oil in Texas is one thing. But setting up a mine in Mpumalanga is quite another. South African leaders have to address different issues, taking into account relevant social and economic challenges – which you won’t find in a Harvard case study,”
“We want to create a really great library of African and South African case studies to allow a whole generation of business leaders to be educated on these issues,” he added.
He said it was hoped that in 10 to 20 years, this generation would have been trained and had practised their craft with real African case studies.
Through the investment, the two business schools aim to create a library of material on emerging market business and social innovation that will be the largest of its kind on the continent.
“This is an exceptional investment and a potential game-changer when it comes to business education on the African continent. Investing in local material means that African business education is where it should be when it comes to business in Africa; leading, not following,” said Dr François Bonnici, Director of the Bertha Centre.