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The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The South African Research Chair in Industrial Development was awarded to Professor Fiona Tregenna, who is the Chair holder and leads the programme. The Chair is hosted at the University of Johannesburg, where it operates as a centre located in the College of Business and Economics​. The programme commenced in January 2016. The Chair is funded for an initial period of five years, renewable for up to 15 years.

The Chair is essentially a research and capacity-building programme in the field of industrial development. Our activities are centred around:

  • Research projects, led primarily by the Chair holder or the Senior Researcher
  • Training and supervision of graduate students
  • Hosting postdoctoral fellows and research visitors
  • Engagement in projects, often with partners, such as conferences, workshops, seminars, training courses, public and policy engagement and so on.

Recognition of the importance of industrial development and industrial policy has grown in recent years, both nationally and internationally. After featuring prominently in national development strategies in the 1950s-1970s, industrial policy went out of fashion somewhat. Over the past decade or so, growing emphasis has been placed on industrial development and industrial policy. Industrialisation has been a common denominator of most success stories of rapid sustained growth. It is rare for a country to develop an advanced and dynamic services sector, and reach high-income status, without going through a phase of strong industrial development. Of course, there are many differences between the world facing developing countries today and that facing pre-eminent industrialisers such as South Korea half a century ago. The international structure of production has changed, especially with the rise of low unit cost producers exporting a wide range of manufactures on a large scale. There have been significant geo-political changes with implications for industrial development. Rapid technological change has multiple implications for industrial development. Financialisation has changed the relationship between finance and industry. The services sector currently contributes far more to employment and GDP than has hitherto been the case, and this sector needs appropriate industrial policy measures to support its development. Deindustrialisation has occurred in many countries of the world, in some instances even at low levels of industrialisation. These and other changes have profound implications for industrial development. It is also important to take account of the heterogeneity of activities within sectors in analysing structural change, suggesting that a sectoral perspective alone would be limiting.

While most of the research conducted in our programme is applied in nature, we also do some more theoretically oriented research. The scope of our research encompasses South Africa, Africa as well as cross-country international studies.

Current and planned broad research focus areas under the Chair include:

  • Structural change
  • Industrialisation and deindustrialisation
  • Industrial policy
  • Technology and innovation

We are open to expressions of interest in the field of industrial development, regarding:

  • Masters and doctoral supervision and funding
  • Postdoctoral fellowships
  • Visiting graduate students
  • Visiting scholars/professors, for short- or long-term visits including during sabbatical periods
  • Collaboration on events, projects or research

Proposals are welcomed on any topics related to industrial development, including but not limited to the following: industrialisation; deindustrialisation; industrial policy; regional industrial development; the green economy as it relates to industrial development; sectoral structure of the economy; sector studies; the manufacturing sector; the services sector; industrial development and income distribution; industrial development and employment or unemployment; gender issues related to industrial development; financialisation. Heterodox perspectives are welcomed.