VUT FACULTY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES HOSTS 2ND ANNUAL RESEARCH COLLOQUIUM
By Qhawekazi Memani 16 August 2022
On Wednesday, 11 August 2022, the VUT Marketing, Retail Business and Sports Management department (within the Faculty of Management Sciences) hosted a virtual research colloquium.
The theme of the colloquium was: The journey of a research scholar from novice to expert.
Experienced marketing scholars gathered virtually to identify whether supervisors and their postgraduate students can transcend to become apt in their research journey as research partners. In this respect, the colloquium emphasised the importance of carving a results-driven supervisor and student relationship while allowing an opportunity for building social connections throughout one’s career.
The colloquium provided a platform to discuss and critically consider how supervisors and their students can respond to the challenges and opportunities brought about by scholarship while navigating the teaching and research nexus.
Below are the colloquium’s learning outcomes:
- To appreciate the importance of excellence in research.
- To appreciate the complexities involved in the supervisor/student relationship.
- To explore available interventions to assist supervisors in their scholarly journey.
Dr Manti Motale, a Senior lecturer within the department opened the colloquium with an ice breaker teaser that challenged attendees to share emojis’ of what research means to them. It became evident from the responses that research can be daunting, which sparked a discussion for further engagement regarding how to traverse this abstract and often-complex arena.
In response, Dr Susanna Burger, Acting Director for Research at VUT, took to the podium to deliver a message of support and encouragement for all members of the academe to make and celebrate even the smallest milestones achieved in research. She expressed sincere appreciation to the faculty of Management Sciences for organising the event and encouraged other faculties to do the same in view of cultivating an environment of active research at VUT. She said the theme for the colloquium was highly relevant in addressing the research capacity challenges currently faced by universities in South Africa.
Guest speaker Professor Adele Berndt, currently attached to Jönköping International Business School in Sweden, spoke on “The importance of establishing a research niche in the scholarly journey”. She acknowledged that the research journey is not comfortable as “we always strive towards perfection, yet no one can be perfect.
Participants were encouraged to identify specific niche areas to focus on and expand their disciplinary depth while learning from each other. Professor Berndt applied a fascinating football analogy to demonstrate that the rules in soccer also apply within the research fraternity.
Professor Mercy Mpinganjira, Director of the School of Consumer Intelligence at the University of Johannesburg, presented a case study outlining how research centres can be developed within faculties. Delivering on the topic: Research centres of excellence as a tool for capacity building; she outlined the importance of starting as research groups sharing common interests and being inclusive. She demonstrated a link between research and teaching, and a need to promote organisational environments and systems that will serve the entire academe.
Above all, Prof Mpinganjira called for researchers to interact with each other, be it nationally or internationally, in an endeavour to build research capacity.
The mid-morning session comprised a panel discussion on the topic, Supervisor and student relationships: The joys and anxieties. The session was moderated by Professor Nobukhosi Dlodlo, Head of the host department (Marketing, Retail Business and Sport Management).
Quoting various extracts from the novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens set in medieval times, Prof Dlodlo encouraged participants to highlight their personal experiences, whether positive or negative, during the entire supervision journey, as well as indicate whether their initial expectations were realised.
Dr Nombulelo Dilotsothle, Head of the Marketing Management department at the University of South Africa, emphasised how throughout her PhD journey, the support of her supervisors played a crucial role. She also reflected on the emotional roller-coaster she traversed throughout the journey by stating that “doubt often crept in”. However, she added, “it was only through the support of supervisors that she began to savour the journey and friendships that developed thereafter.”
Professor Mpinganjira mentioned that shaping doctoral students ultimately leads to improvements in one’s scholarship as a researcher. She concurred with Prof Berndt that throughout the supervision process, the student should be the centre of attention and all expectations should be clarified.
The afternoon session comprised a unique presentation by Professor Danie Petzer, currently the Head of Research at Henley Business school. He spoke about his disciplinary expertise, which is services marketing, and outlined how postgraduate supervisors can evolve from levels of unconscious competence to conscious competence. He outlined how supervisors should identify student gaps should they intend to deliver high-quality postgraduate supervision. Professor Petzer skilfully demonstrated how the five service quality dimensions originally put forward by Parasuraman, Berry and Zeithaml (1983) are relevant in promoting excellence in research and supervision.
Dr Elmarie Strydom, a senior lecturer in the department of Marketing, Retail Business and Sport Management was the programme lead for the day, and she assisted in introducing the speakers and facilitating the question-and-answer segments throughout the event.
Delivering the vote of thanks, acting Executive Dean of the host faculty, Professor Chengedzai Mafini, acknowledged the event organisers and the host department for putting together such a powerful programme. He thanked all the presenters for offering intellectual engagement and knowledge-sharing opportunities adding that he is looking forward to furthering fruitful engagements with all the participants for future research collaborations.
In closing, Professor Mafini encouraged participants to reflect on everything learned today and implement, in order to achieve the desired research results.” Following the vote of thanks, last respects were offered in honour of Dr Thabang Theophilus Mareka, a senior lecturer in the department of Marketing, Retail Business and Sport Management who passed away recently.