Prof Petzer is the new head of research at Henley Africa

Prof Daniel Petzer
Prof Daniel Petzer is the new head of research at Henley Business School Africa. He has been awarded a full professorship in this role, by the University of Reading, UK. The 49-year-old career academic joined the award-winning business school at the beginning of January 2021, after a highly successful tenure at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science where he had been professor of marketing, director of research and ultimately deputy dean of the business school.

Petzer was born and bred on a farm in Perdekop, Mpumalanga. He went to high school in Meyerton before doing his initial BCom degree at the then Potchefstroom University, as well as his honours and master’s degrees, while his PhD was completed at the University of the North West, which Potchefstroom University had become a constituent part of.

His first job was as a 23-year-old management and marketing lecturer at the Welkom campus of the then Vista University during the time Henley Africa academic director Frempong Acheampong was based at the Vista head office in Pretoria.

A National Research Foundation (NRF) C2 rated researcher and prolific contributor to academic journals and author of scholarly papers, Professor Petzer taught at Monash South Africa, the University of Johannesburg and North West University before joining the University of Pretoria. It was after leaving Monash that he completed his PhD and developed his passion for research.

“I’m an academic at heart and very passionate about research,” he says, “I’ve got a track record of being able to foster the growth of research capabilities in academic institutions.”

Petzer, who has supervised countless master’s and doctoral candidates as an academic, is also an associate editor for the European Business Review for Africa and service management. He is furthermore an editorial board member of the Southern African Business Review (SABR).

“I’m very excited about joining Henley Africa,” he says, “it’s a very dynamic business school and I believe I can contribute to the growth of its research capabilities.

Petzer’s own research is focussed on uncovering consumer responses to organisational efforts to build, maintain and restore relationships with customers in a services context, but he says his role will be far broader than that.

“I have to be a facilitator; I have to champion research at the school. I want to be able to equip the MBA students with the necessary skills to conduct their own research as well as foster a culture of research among academics. It’s important that we don’t just do our own academic research, but that we also produce research in the form of thought leadership for our stakeholder’s consumption.

“A business school finds itself these days at a juncture where its reputation and indeed its accreditation is dependent upon its academic research output, but its reputation is also dependent upon what it contributes, and is seen to contribute, to the broader community.”

Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley said Petzer’s decision to join the school was a feather in Henley’s cap.

“We pride ourselves on excellence; an excellent faculty is key to serving an excellent student body and Danie is precisely the kind of person we need to head up our still brand new #HenleyAIR, our Africa Insight and Research institute, which we launched just before the advent of COVID-19 and the start of the lockdown. In South Africa, research and building a better society must work together to create an acceleration of opportunity. We want research at Henley to serve this purpose, to have a relevance and impact that will make a difference to business, to policy, to imagination.

“It is testimony to Danie’s energy and passion that he started work from the very first day and we look forward to a raft of new projects that will add to the wealth of scholarship on contemporary African and international problems as we continue to build the leaders who will build the businesses that will build Africa.

“#AIR is part of Henley Africa’s transition from a university school that confers qualifications to a progressive higher education institution that provides relevant research for a country and a continent in desperate need of it.”

The research, Foster-Pedley says, should provide roadmaps for governments, corporates and institution to navigate their way through some highly contentious issues to ultimately reduce the Gini co-efficient in a way that is open, transparent, fair and sustainable for everyone involved.

“The solutions that emerge from #AIR will be underpinned by scientific rigour and free from the potentially catastrophic solutions informed by either dogma or desperate quick fixes,” he says.

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