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Volatile Economy and Rising Operational Costs Focus of PhD Research

2017/04/19 11:12:45 AM

The Quest for Process Operations’ Variability Reduction in Manufacturing Firms in South Africa, was the title of research by Business Administration doctoral graduate, Dr Katombe Madi.


Dr Katombe Madi.

The Quest for Process Operations’ Variability Reduction in Manufacturing Firms in South Africa, was the title of research by Business Administration doctoral graduate, Dr Katombe Madi.

Explaining the focus of his research, Madi said: ‘In an era characterised by a volatile economy, intense competition, and rising energy and material costs, improving operational efficiency has become a necessity for margin purposes and long-term business success.

‘This research study attempts to develop a model for process operations variability reduction that integrates the fundamental drivers, the intermediate measures and the four traditional competitive capabilities: quality, cost, delivery reliability and speed of delivery. In addition, it highlights the precise mechanisms in plants that lead to multiple competitive capabilities development.

‘The concept of a routine-based approach to capabilities development provides a nexus between the earlier actions by the organisation and competitive advantage. Using longitudinal data from the Manufacturing Circle of South Africa, a statistical analysis was conducted to support the model, and path analysis models were developed which confirmed that the performance frontier is really a surface that spans many different dimensions. Altering the shape of the frontier in one dimension possibly also changes its shape in other dimensions,’ said Madi.

Asked about benefits accruing from the research, he said his study contributed to the body of knowledge and outlined pathways to process operations variability reduction in Manufacturing Firms in South Africa. ‘This is through better execution of routines concerned with maintaining the performance of the current processes, improving the existing processes, and transforming or changing to new processes in order to develop sustainable competitive advantage.’

He said balancing his personal life and his studies had not been easy. ‘I needed at least two hours during the week for my studies, and most of my weekends were completely dedicated to my research, except for going to church.

‘My young daughters Abigail and Arielle were always asking me questions such as “Dad are you still doing your homework? Can we go to your school to meet your teacher?”’

Madi advised other students wanting to do a PhD that it was worth the hard work. ‘PhD students have a high degree of internal motivation that stems from their inborn curiosity and love of intellectual pursuits. The doctoral degree is not just a passport to a world of research and new knowledge, it is a valuable asset that provides special abilities across several job functions.’

Madi, who is currently employed as a Process Engineer in a multinational company, thanked his family for their unconditional support and his supervisor Dr E Munapo for challenging him to think beyond the existing knowledge frontier, therefore developing and enabling him to complete his studies.

Sithembile Shabangu

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