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Exploring the practices and success factors of an innovation hub in South Africa
(University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023) Ntoi, Mihlali
The research report explores the practices and success factors of an innovation hub in South Africa. The study aims to understand how innovation hubs operate within the South African technology ecosystem and the role they play within this environment. It follows a qualitative approach and focuses on a single case study. The data was collected through open ended interviews held with participants that included the hub management, hub employees and hub users of the identified innovation hub. The findings reveal that the innovation hub plays the role of being a community builder and a support structure provider for entrepreneurs. The key challenge they face is ensuring sustainability of the operation in the long run. Lastly, their success factors include leveraging the strategic partnerships they have entered into and providing a good hub experience. The study suggests that similar structures could be of benefit in, underserved areas to promote and further support entrepreneurship and small businesses within these areas. Funding models that are creative, sustainable and mutually beneficial should also be explored by innovation hubs with their funders and investors. The study contributes to the literature on the understanding of innovation hubs within the South African context
Sustainable marketing practices and South African consumers’ behavioural intentions regarding green products
(University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023-12-15) Nhlapo-Chaoane, Kwandisiwe Nondumiso; Quaye, Emmanuel
There is a noticeable gap in research conducted in developing markets regarding consumers’ willingness to adopt environmentally friendly behaviours and although global organisations are increasingly adopting sustainable marketing practices, most of the existing research is from a developed market perspective (Amos, 2018; Singh & Pandey, 2012). As such, the research investigates the influence of sustainable marketing practices on South African consumers’ behavioural intentions regarding green products. This research was adapted from a study conducted by Peterson et al. (2021) in the United States. The intention was to replicate and also advance the work by introducing socio-demographic characteristics as a lens through which to understand the buying behaviours of South African consumers regarding green products. A quantitative method with a survey design was used and data was collected from a sample size of 388 respondents in South Africa. This study confirmed that ecocentrism, attitude toward business benevolence and business contributions to my QOL directly influence behavioural intentions regarding green products in the South African context. The concern regarding ethical practices of the business and valuing social justice did not influence South African consumers behavioural intentions regarding green products. With regards to socio-demographic characteristics as moderating variables, the findings showed that gender moderates the relationship between ecocentrism and behavioural intentions confirming that females are more inclined to environmentally friendly behaviours than males. Ethnicity moderates the relationship between attitude toward business benevolence and behavioural intentions, over-indexing in people of colour. Multi- national organisations that operate in South Africa and by extension, the other SADC member states can use this research as a foundation for developing sustainable marketing strategies in these states. Marketing professionals developing sustainability strategies and NGOs involved in the well-being and enhancement of individuals' quality of Life (QOL) within the SADC communities can also use this research for developing sustainable marketing practices.
Sustainable business model innovation and ESG performance in the South African mining industry
(University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023) Nhlanhla, Khulekani; Mzyece, Mjumo
The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) performance on sustainable business model innovation in the South African mining industry. The study is conducted with the aim to understand which of the ESG factors are most influential in driving sustainable business model innovation and how they either support or hinder innovation. Due to its extractive nature, and natural resources and reserves mostly being located in countries of the global south (emerging economies) like South Africa, the mining industry has been known to have high impacts on the environment and society (Krause & Drusche, 2021). The industry therefore has a profound role to play in sustainable development and addressing social and environmental challenges (Krause & Drusche, 2021). The nature and direction of the relationship between ESG and sustainable business models has been researched to a certain extent in industries like finance, but the studies are skewed towards regions such as Europe and generalised to other regions like Africa. In a study by Spoz et al., (2021), the authors claim that the study analysed the results from an international context (Asia, America, Africa, and Europe), but only make mention of Europe and Asia, with an emphasis on Europe in their study. Of the three ESG factors (environment, social and corporate governance), the study showed that there’s a moderately strong relationship for a positive impact between social factors and sustainable business models (SBMs) in Europe (Spoz et al., 2021). In a similar study conducted by Ritala et al., (2018) on United States companies listed in the S&P (Standard and Poor’s) 500 index, the researchers found that a significant number of firms adopted environmentally oriented sustainable business models (SMB) more frequently than those oriented toward society. Available literature does not sufficiently make a link between environmental, social and governance performance and sustainable business model innovation applied in the mining industries of emerging economies like South Africa. Neglecting the link ii between ESG performance and sustainable business model innovation in regions like South Africa and its mining industry poses risks of environment degradation, regulatory setbacks, and missed economic opportunities (Quayson, et al., 2023). This research has examined how ESG performance supports or thwarts sustainable business model innovation in the South African mining industry. Through the collection of data using two approaches, semi-structured interviews, and the examination of publicly available company documentation such annual ESG and sustainability reports, this study found that in the South African mining industry, the governance factor was most influential in decisions regarding innovation and sustainable business model innovation. Within the governance factor, elements such as policy and regulation stood out as elements that drove the governance factor. This came from inefficiencies caused by uncertainty in regulation and policy which in turn cause delays in issuing of licenses and permits for innovations or innovative projects needed by the mining industry. Sustainable development and business model innovation require a systematic approach emphasizing an equal level of importance on all the three factors: social, environmental, and governance within the ESG framework. Active adaptive management can be used to implement proactive monitoring, experimentation, and iterative implementation of actions in pursuit of improved ESG performance that has a positive impact on sustainable business model innovation.
Evaluating the influence of stakeholder participation in the m&e process of green technology projects (A case study of the SANEDI Biogas Digester Projects in South Africa)
(University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023) Ndlovu, Linah
Green technology projects have become more recently one of the best alternative strategies for sustainable development against the growing concerns and threats of energy crisis, climate change, population growth and wealth disparity. In the endeavour to fulfil this essence over the past two decades, South Africa has fallen short and demonstrated below average uptake of green technologies compared to other developing countries. Research evidence supports the effective use of participatory M&E of projects and programmes in promoting better project performance, sustenance, and greater adoption of projects. To explore the influence of stakeholder participation levels on the implementation of green technology projects, a qualitative research approach making use of SANEDI’s biogas digester projects as a case study was adopted by this study. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews from eight participants representing internal and external stakeholders. The findings reveal that the level of stakeholder participation in M&E of projects was low to medium amongst external stakeholders during early project stages of inception and planning through to project implementation, monitoring and close out whereas internal stakeholders had high level of participation throughput the project cycle. among internal stakeholders. The low level of participation created downstream challenges in maintaining and operating the biogas digesters, low project acceptance and ownership levels by the community. The study concludes that meaningful stakeholder participation with balanced power dynamics is required throughout the project life cycle. A high level of stakeholder participation amongst internal and external stakeholders in M&E of projects from project inception to closeout allows stakeholders to enjoy decision making benefits that can help create more aligned stakeholder priorities and needs, build better community ownership levels and greater project uptake. The study also concludes that meaningful stakeholder participation supported by the provision and planning of financial resources, training and awareness create an enabling foundation for the sustainable implementation and uptake of green technologies.
Technological catch-up and railway innovation at Transnet in South Africa
(University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, 2023) Mtebele, Itumeleng
This research aims to explore technological catch-up and railway innovation in the South African railway industry. It seeks to highlight the importance of innovation and technological catch-up in significantly improving operational performance and maintaining a competitive advantage for South African rail operators. The research design of this study involves a single, embedded case study that examines the effects of railway technological innovation and the process of technological catch-up in the railway industry, specifically within the global south. Transnet is utilised as the primary focus for exploration and analysis. The research findings show that Transnet has made considerable effort to keep up with prevailing railway technological innovation and the organisation currently resides in the duplicative imitation stage and is struggling to move beyond this stage. This is due to several factors: a lack of effective learning and technological capability building, a shortage of financial and vital resources, and unfavourable government policies. The recently gazetted National Rail Policy in South Africa presents an opportunity for the government to support the railway industry in its technological catch-up efforts and promote innovation to maintain its competitive advantage. In this respect, further recommendations for Transnet are made in this research report. The technological catch-up process is a complex and continuous process that may take decades and is not guaranteed. However, it is much more likely to be successful if an intentional, systematic, yet dynamic process is undertaken. Thus, there is hope for the South African railway sector