A pathbreaking study by VUT’s human resource executive revolutionizes innovation in South African higher education.

By: Qhawekazi Memani – 08 September 2023

In an extraordinary undertaking, the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Human Resources Executive Director, Busisiwe Ramabodu, formerly Nhlapho, has introduced a ground-breaking study that holds the potential to revolutionize innovation practices within South African universities.    Her article is titled: ‘The drivers of Innovation at Universities: A case of South African Universities,’ and is poised to make significant contributions in South African Universities.

This remarkable research, stemming from Busisiwe’s MBA thesis, has been published in the esteemed International Journal of Professional Business Review. Collaborating with her MBA Supervisor, Prof Pfano Mashau, and postdoc colleague, Dr. Tshililio Farisani, Busisiwe delves deep into the drivers of innovation, scrutinizing both employee and senior leadership perspectives on innovation management.

Hailing from the picturesque town of Bergville near the Drakensberg Mountains, in KwaZulu Natal, Busisiwe’s motivation was kindled by her fervent desire to witness universities making practical strides in addressing societal challenges. “Although universities are prolific generators of research, only a fraction of this knowledge materializes into tangible solutions. Thus, my research honed in on the crucial question of how universities could bridge this gap effectively,” she said.

According to Busisiwe, her research utilized a mixed-method approach, and it encompassed surveys administered to employees across two universities and illuminating semi-structured interviews with senior leaders. Her comprehensive methodology unveiled a rich tapestry of factors propelling innovation. These encompassed societal responsiveness, collaborative knowledge exchange, global recognition, individual motivation, nurturing environments, and governmental regulations.

However, Busisiwe’s research did not merely highlight barriers; it unearthed opportunities. She emphasized that universities possessed the potential to transform obstacles into catalysts for innovation. In her capacity as an executive at VUT, she proactively looks for opportunities  to dismantle HR-related hurdles and champion initiatives that encourage innovation and research.

Going beyond the borders of South African universities, Busisiwe’s research carries global implications. Her conceptual model serves as a guiding compass for universities worldwide, offering tailored insights into innovative practices adjusted to their unique contexts.

With elation, Busisiwe shared that this publication represents not just a personal accomplishment but also a beacon of knowledge destined to inspire change. Her legacy will undoubtedly continue to illuminate the path for others in their pursuit of innovation.

VUT takes immense pride in Busisiwe’s achievements and extends heartfelt congratulations to her on this remarkable milestone.