I am involved in three kinds of research projects.
- There are those topics and themes that I work on out of my own curiosity. The learning from these projects typically feeds into assignments.
- There are specific commissions that I receive from clients who want me to conduct research for them or with them.
- The third kind of research is where I form part of a larger organisation and where I participate or support their research agenda.
Currently, my focus is on discontinuous technological change and how societies create institutions that enable learning and upgrading.
Much of my focus in 2020 was about leadership teams and how they made sense of all the uncertainty.
I had a great research contract on the topic of how to assess and develop entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems.
At the same time, my research on how developing countries can make embrace new technological capabilities, or keep track of the uptake of new technologies.
In 2019 I was focused on disruption, and how institutions in developing countries could get their heads around the 4th industrial revolution, technological disruption.
In several of my projects we investigated how management teams of meso programmes and public organisations could reflect on their value addition and resilience. One output is an instrument that we call the MESO OD benchmarking instrument.
In September, I received a commission from a client to look into industry associations and how they can transform into meso organisations.
In 2018, my research was mainly focused on the fourth industrial revolution and discontinuous technological change. I received a commission to investigate how ready South Africa is for technological disruption from TIPS and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). This research contributed to the strategy of a new Chief Directorate at the dti called the Future Production Technology directorate. I published several papers as part of this research agenda that can be found on the Mesopartner website.
Marcus Jenal and I also received a commission to look at technological change opportunities in the DRC. Our research report can be found on the Mesopartner website.
I self-funded research into change in the meso level and especially on how public sector meso organisations change. Some of these outputs can be seen on the Mesopartner Organisational Development research theme page.
During this period my research was mainly focused on systemic change and how developmental organisations gain systemic insight. Marcus Jenal and I received a research commission from DFID (via Beam Exchange) to investigate how we can improve systemic change in development projects.
We also created the Systemic Insight webpage, and we refined our Systemic Insight process methodology that we use to help teams and networks conduct joint sense-making of their economic complexity and to take appropriate action.
My broad research interests
My research is focused on a wide range of topics and range from the promotion of innovation systems, industrialization and science, to economic development, technology management, process consulting and complexity.
I have been associated with the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in South Africa for a few years, mainly around promoting closer interaction between the VUT and the industries surrounding it. I played a small part in the establishment of the Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park and the funding of various high end additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies. I have worked intensely in the promotion of the foundry industry in South Africa in close cooperation with the VUT in support of the introduction of new technologies that enable faster and more accurate manufacturing of metal castings.
Since 2015, I am also a member of the Faculty at Stellenbosch University Business School. My work with USB will focus on the management of Technology and Innovation.
I am also associated with the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI) at Tshwane University of Technology. Here my work focuses on innovation systems and specifically how to develop innovation systems in regions. I also assist with teaching and research around how to better manage technology transfer, industry development and research management.
Beyond these formal appointments, I advise a number of international organizations on research, industrial development and innovation systems. I have a small number of manufacturers that I assist with industrial research and product development mainly through assisting these organizations to establish their own R&D units.