IDRC grant for PhD studies at GIBS

Strengthening Research Capacity on Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship

There is a growing recognition world-wide that the development and growth of vibrant enterprises, and the unleashing of entrepreneurial potential are crucial in the quest for promoting broad-based development. As the business school of one of the leading research universities on the continent, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) of the University of Pretoria has embarked on a program to strengthen and expand its doctoral offeringaimed at developing a cohort of scholars across sub-Saharan Africa who can contribute to knowledge of business, economic development and management in the region and beyond. The aim is to foster analytical capacity and rigorous research that address the key challenges related to entrepreneurship and enterprise development in sub-Saharan Africa.

With financial support from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), GIBS will offer scholarships for up to 8 eligible students from sub-Saharan Africa (other than South Africa) for doctoral study in business and management. The successful candidates will enroll in the GIBS doctoral program on a part-time basis, with a requirement to commit to spending at least 3 months full time during the write-up of their doctoral dissertation.

The GIBS doctoral programme starts each year during January with a compulsory week-long seminar. The 2013 seminar is scheduled for January 28 to February 1. More details about the doctoral programme can be found at

The scholarship grant will cover the following:

  • Tuition cost at GIBS
  • Travel to and from the home country to GIBS to attend the required seminars (7 subject areas in total over the course of a year) to meet with supervisors, and to defend both the proposal and the dissertation thesis
  • Accommodation and meals while at GIBS
  • Support for data gathering where needed and for presenting at a pre-approved peer-reviewed conference
  • A living stipend to allow students to complete the dissertation once all data have been collected

The selected candidates are expected to undertake policy relevant research that contribute to the Supporting Inclusive Growth initiative of the IDRC (, which among others explores issues around the emergence of vibrant mid-size enterprises and the role of institutions therein, sources of innovation and productivity, entrepreneurship, women's economic empowerment, and the role of regulatory and policy frameworks.
The GIBS doctoral program is guided by the following principles:

  • Rigorous – we want potential students to describe it as the “hardest but best” doctoral program
  • Path-breaking –where the false “theory versus practice” dichotomy in management and business scholarship is broken down; good research matters in terms of both the generalizable theory it creates and in terms of its impact in the world
  • Differentiated – the place to come to better understand dynamic, emerging market challenges
  • African – the place for African scholars who want to contribute to the development of the continent

As part of its positioning as a doctoral program that focuses on the challenges of Africa, GIBS is paying particular attention to the issues of economic growth and upgrading on the continent. This will be reflected in the course work and doctoral themes.

Through its doctoral program, GIBS sees itself as helping develop a cadre of scholars who can act as faculty in business schools across the continent and improve the quality of management overall. At the same time, we hope to ensure the development of scholars who can contribute to the body of knowledge about economic growth and upgrading in Africa. Because of the limited research conducted in Africa, faculty sometimes find themselves recommending courses of action of which the consequences in this context are at best not known, and sometimes even wrong. Ultimately, we wish to help ensure that the content of what African managers and policy makers use to guide their decisions, and of what is taught at universities in Africa, is appropriate for the context.

Grant eligibility

This scholarship is targeted at individuals who:

  • Are citizens of a country in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa)
  • Live in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa)
  • Work in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa)
  • Are seeking to gain a doctorate addressing issues pertinent to the IDRC’s Supporting Inclusive Growth (SIG) thematic areas of interest, namely:
    • SME development: What role can institutions play in the development of productive medium-sized enterprises? How can competition policy facilitate market entry? What role do Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play in the emergence and success of enterprises?
    • Regulatory and policy frameworks: Do regulatory reforms and business environment measures increase the productivity of informal and formal enterprise productivity and growth? How do legal frameworks and other informal rules impact women’s economic opportunities?
    • Entrepreneurship and productivity: Which policies encourage entrepreneurship and promote innovation? What role do resources, and more importantly agency, play in successful entrepreneurship? What are the specific obstacles that women entrepreneurs face?
      • Possess a valid Master’s degree (MBA or other)
      • Have good English language skills. This includes French speaking West African citizens with good English language skills as evidenced in the 10-page application and in follow-up communication.
      • Have a familiarity with basic statistics
      • Show a commitment to gender equity through their research question and/or through their approach to their topic. E.g. if a topic addresses a theme like the role of ICT in the emergence of small enterprises, there will be an effort to include male and female SMEs, and questions on access to and the role of ICT will also explore whether there is a gendered dimension to the matter

Application procedure:

The application process is the same as outlined on the GIBS website – see and complete all documents outlined there.

Applicants’ attention is drawn to the following requirements:

  1. Students are required to submit a 10-page research proposal as part of the application. It is expected that the proposal will be refined during the course work, but in order to ensure the best possible match with the goals of the IDRC grant and with the supervisory capacity at GIBS, it is important for students to give an outline of:
    • The proposed research question
    • A concise review of the literature most relevant to the research
    • Proposed research design with its ethical implications
    • Proposed data source(s) and data gathering strategy.
  2. The application forms ask students about their country of origin. Please pay careful attention to that section. In addition, students are required to submit proof of:
    • Their nationality (e.g. a copy of their national identity document)
    • Their employment (e.g. a letter of appointment).
    • Their residence (e.g. a copy of a telephone bill)

Application deadline:

Complete applications must be received by September 30 2012 for the January 2013 intake.

Applications must be submitted to [email protected]. The same email address can also be used to obtain more information about the grant.

This opportunity listing expired on 1-Oct-2012

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