Fresh and upcoming management research from the SAIMS conference

Fresh research - the kind of stuff you cannot simply Google!

This is the kind of stuff you just cannot Google!

On probably the finest 2 days in spring, I had the privilege of attending the 29th annual conference of the Southern African Institute of Management Scientists (SAIMS) in hostedthe University of the Free State faculty of economic and management sciences (next year in Stellenbosch). I also had the privilege of presenting a paper to some highly respected academics.

The theme was “Management research: Science serving practice”.

Very critical of the quality of research. (Very)

Let it be known, management scientists are a tough crowd. They are very critical of poorly formulated research. And that is necessary if you consider how much noise that takes the form of management theory out there.

The conference opened with Prof Adré Schreuder from Consulta  – a respected academic and successful marketing research practitioner. He warned us to beware of theory that makes promises such as “this is the one.” It resonated with the many articles we see on the web today, such as “5 things managers don’t know but, but their clients wish they did, etc…” – so many click-bait titles and single-theory based promises out there. He acknowledged how these tactics work because science has substance but lacks the attractive form that we see in practice.

I loved his analogy: Likening quantitative data, to a cholesterol test. Some people don’t like data and numbers, but when numbers predict future outcomes (as a cholesterol test does, frighteningly), then science secures its place as essential for management practice.

What is the latest management research?

After that intro, the papers presented were simply mind-blowing – fresh management research, yet only the tip of the iceberg.

For example, Dr David Priilaid from GSB UCT can tell you with a degree of confidence how much you could increase the price of chocolate to the point that people perceive that it tastes better. Can you imagine the power of knowing the best price, and one that causes your product to be enjoyed more. 

Dr Linda Ronnie, also from UCT presented evidence that recruiters who include the salary range in their online recruiting adverts attract more, and better candidates. Please tell the world, because professionals really do not want to play cat and mouse games with recruiters. The web is full of articles about this, but so much is unfounded and inconclusive.

I watched a disconcerting analysis of the lack of consistent practice with respect to executive remuneration and performance. I also had the opportunity to meet with Dr Suzette Viviers from UPE afterwards, who co-authored the research. 

Hirchfelder, Human & Nel from the University of Stellenbosch Business School presented fantastic research on content marketing. We’ve all seen content marketing, but what’s the ROI for producing high quality video, especially if you never actually mention your products or benefits? These authors identified a number of factors that differentiate various content marketing strategies in terms of success. An excellent paper.

What about music in an ad, the labelling of a bottle of wine, or the reasons people purchase one wine and not another, or a different beverage altogether. It’ is probably none of the reasons you thought. Two different universities brought interesting research on the matter, and the factors are not the same for everybody. (Nice presentation by Alex Coetzee of UFS, and solid papers by  de Villiers, Human-Van Eck, Pentz, Forrester)

Good luck trying to compete with an estate armed with this scientific data. Far better than Googling an article like (the 7 features everybody must include in their label design).

Research on digitizing education

McGrawHill Education presented a case study on how smart-books, and the correct use of online learning platforms optimise time-on-task. Evidence of other benefits is emerging. I like how they steered clear of overdoing a marketing presentation, and focused on some research findings. they avoided making wild generalisations that academics simply wouldn’t fall for anyway. They are gathering very interesting data which makes a case for hybrid learning environments – when used correctly, and in a specific way.

I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes of some of the work-in-progress articles, particularly the following:

Research in progress

  • Whether telemarketing still has a place in marketing, or if it drives negative brand sentiment (Kühn), watch out for this author’s work. She could free the world from tele-irritation.
  • The antecedents of service brand awareness by Mostert, Petzner, Berndt and Petrou. A very good model being built and some solid data coming through already. Expect a few papers on this.
  • The factors influencing the use-intention of mobile branded applications (van Wyk) at University of the Free State. Priceless knowledge in the pipeline, considering the massive spend on apps.
  • And more in HR, finance, business ethics, consumer science, strategic, management, Africa and globalisation. (so much to tell!)

And the winner is...

The conference ended on a high note. Best papers were acknowledged and rewarded by PPSAnd I won a prize in a lucky draw.

I think the real winner is the business community. We are fortunate to have an organisation like this so hard at work churning out valuable, peer-reviewed, scientific research.

Well done SAIMS and the academic community. South Africa has an incredible resource of solid research that can guide management strategy – the kind of stuff you can’t simply Google.


Artwork: Cover page SAIMS 29th annual conference programme.

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