Local Economic Development the Focus of MCom Research
South Africa’s failure to implement local economic development (LED) effectively and efficiently even though government support agencies are in place, motivated Mr Thabiso Dube to embark on a research journey which earned him a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies during UKZN’s Autumn Graduation season.
Supervised by Dr Mlondi Vilakazi of the University’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership, the title of Dube’s study was: Exploring Innovation Platforms for Local Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal: An Analysis of the Ugu South Coast Development Agency.
Dube critically evaluated the innovation and developmental role played by state-funded LED agencies. He says the findings confirm those of previous studies and point to a lack of expertise in public LED spaces, and where adequate resources and capacity are in place, the lack of political will stifles novel undertakings. He said although funding was a perennial challenge, numerous innovative methodologies could be employed to fast-track development.
As a committed LED practitioner, Dube was worried about the lack of interest in his research among senior decision makers who treated the project ‘like just another academic venture.’ He says this underlines the notion that agencies lack capacity and knowledge to innovate because they do not harness and implement recommendations from scholarly research.
Dube’s interest in business development led to him to move to the United Kingdom where he believes he will get international exposure to global business and innovation while he reads for an MSc in Corporate Governance in Leeds.
Not able to attend his graduation in person, he said: ‘I look forward to receiving my merit certificates and degree certificate as testimony to the work and sacrifices that went into this project.’
Words: Hazel Langa