The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has launched a Centre for Emergent Market Business (CEMB) – the first of its kind in Africa – through which it will build a deeper understanding of business in these key global markets and facilitate business opportunities and skills development in the region.
The establishment of the CEMB has been motivated by the growing importance and business opportunities in emergent markets and the role of business schools in addressing the serious talent shortage needed for leading emergent market organisations, especially those in Africa.
According to Associate Professor Tom Ryan, acting director of the UCT GSB, doing and understanding business in emergent markets has been a significant focus in recent years of both business and academia globally.
"The focus has, until recently, been on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries but there is a fast developing focus on doing business with and in Africa, with many African countries experiencing over 5% economic growth over the past three years. Economic projections indicate that growth in emergent markets is likely to outstrip that of established markets over the next 20 years," he says.
Ryan adds that the UCT GSB has, over the past few years, been shaping its role in this area in South Africa and Africa.
"The launch of the CEMB is consistent with and lends further credence to the GSB's vision of growing highly-capable leaders in emergent markets. The CEMB further positions the UCT GSB as the pre-eminent business school in Africa specialising in applied and relevant research on and the teaching of business in emergent markets, and Africa in particular," he says.
According to Dr Mills Soko, a senior lecturer at the GSB and one of the prime movers behind the establishment of the Centre, that the choice of the word "emergent" over the more commonly used "emerging" in the name for the Centre is significant in that it talks to the GSB's core understanding of what drives these markets.
"Emerging is a term used mainly by the financial world and is rooted in an ideology that implies the markets are moving towards a pre-defined goal. Emergent suggest the emergence of a new form that is largely unpredictable and hence alive with possibility that we think better describes what is really going on in these markets," he says.
The CEMB, as its name suggests, will therefore be a vibrant and multipurpose centre that integrates and enhances the various research, teaching and development activities the UCT GSB already conducts with an emergent market focus, such as its work in the areas of management development, entrepreneurship, public sector and NGO leadership, corporate social responsiveness, healthcare, and infrastructure reform and regulation. In addition, it will develop new programmes that address emergent market needs and will facilitate partnerships with other universities in emergent markets.
"The UCT GSB is well placed to develop a leadership position in this area – the business school has the platform on which to build the strategic partnerships, undertake the research and teaching, and deliver the executive education needed to significantly enhance emergent market knowledge and expertise," says Ryan.
The CEMB will also involve the creation of new permanent academic posts at the UCT GSB to build academic capacity, the establishment and maintenance of a number of visiting research and teaching opportunities, the production of key research on emergent markets and working papers, scholarships for Masters and/or PhD students, and the production of textbooks and case studies.
The first major initiative to be launched by the CEMB will be a conference on emergent market business, to be held at the UCT GSB in November 2009.