PhD Support Group Played Major Role in Doctoral Graduates’ Success

Three UKZN PhD graduates were supported in their research and studies by a cohort initiative facilitated by Professor Maxwell Phiri of the School of Management, IT and Governance.

Dr Josphat Manyeruke of Zimbabwe and Dr Peter Kwasi Oppong of Ghana graduated with their PhDs in Marketing, while Dr Nelia Eta Marima also of Zimbabwe was awarded a PhD in Entrepreneurship after being part of a research community which met twice a month for dissertation writing and research supervision.

For Marima, being part of the cohort created a platform for her to meet other researchers, share experiences and engage with her supervisor face to face which enhanced her research.

‘My research focused on innovation as a strategy for survival and growth for SMEs,’ said Marima. ‘Challenges I faced included finance since some of the research was done in remote areas and there were time constraints since I also had a job as a full-time lecturer in Zimbabwe.

‘I am now going to focus on publishing articles and books as I aspire to be a professor one day.’

For Manyeruke, travelling from Zimbabwe to meet with the cohort in Pietermaritzburg was expensive in terms of time and money but the results were worth it.

‘Our Zimbabwean economy is not doing very well, thus it was not easy to raise finance and I also faced a challenge of lack of time as I am fully employed by Chinhoyi University of Technology. At times it was difficult to balance work and study commitments, however, the PhD cohort helped me a lot as it was a meeting point with peers who all shared ideas. Professor Phiri would sometimes bring professionals who explained certain concepts in a way I understood. The supervisor himself would lecture certain important research concepts,’ he said.

Manyeruke hopes his research titled: Customer Satisfaction with Electronic Banking Services in Zimbabwe: A Case of Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe will help businesses to improve their electronic banking service.

Oppong, a Ghanian researcher, says the results of his PhD research titled: The Influence of Packaging and Brand Equity of Over-The-Counter Herbal Medicines in Kumasi, Ghana, have already led to him having four research papers published.

‘Despite the advantages associated with packaging and brand equity, no empirical research had been done to uncover their significance in the traditional herbal medicine market,’ said Oppong. ‘My research established that brand awareness, associations, loyalty and perceived quality are key sources of value of herbal medicines sold at Kumasi.

‘Well-designed packaging and brand equity contribute to competitive distinctiveness that can boost the future growth of a company in the industry’ he said.

Commenting on the success of the PhD cohort, Phiri said he was proud of the graduates and looked forward to the cohort generating more graduates, more publications and getting the School to support the initiative as he was currently running the cohort from his own research funds.

Words and Photograph: Thandiwe Jumo