Professor completes his third PhD

Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership's Professor Renier Steyn

PhD - It is an acronym that has come to represent hard work, commitment and ultimately, success.

Against the backdrop of an acute shortage of PhD graduates in South Africa, Renier Steyn, professor of Leadership and Human Resource Management at the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL), has set the bar higher by completing his third PhD, focused on Business Administration. Prof Steyn already holds doctoral degrees in Industrial and Personnel Psychology (PhD, University of the North-West) and Psychology (DLitt et Phil, University of South Africa).

“I am passionate about research and completed this PhD to contribute further to the creation of a coherent body of knowledge on my chosen topic, gender discrimination in the workplace,” says Prof Steyn. At the same time, he wanted to make his qualifications even more relevant to his role within the SBL. “The degrees I hold are in psychology, and I was keen to improve my knowledge in a business school environment by obtaining a more business-related degree.”

Prof Steyn is a registered research psychologist with 18 years’ experience as a psychologist in the public sector. His research interest in Human Resources and Organisational Performance is broad and includes areas that range from substance abuse to post-traumatic stress disorder and the validity of astrology and he is well-published on these topics.

“At UNISA SBL we do research in order to understand the practices of Human Resources Management, identify weaknesses and shortcomings, and investigate how effective practices influence organisational outcomes,” he says. “We pride ourselves on not simply doing research that will remain within academia, but practical research that can be implemented in the real world.”

Prof Steyn believes that even though gender-based discrimination is not condoned in the modern workplace, perceptions that such discrimination exists, still persist. “By trying to understand the nature and extent of the phenomenon, we may be able to contribute to the management of it.” Prof Steyn took an all-encompassing approach and highlighted specific elements to make this study unique. A comprehensive sample of companies was included in the study. Information was gathered from both male and female lower level employees, which sets this study apart from many previous studies where the emphasis is often on senior and top managers.

One of the key findings in this study was that a high number of men feel discriminated against in the workplace, which should inform organisational policies and practices going forward. “Interestingly, it can be concluded that perceptions of being discriminated against are the result of psycho-social processes and not necessarily the result of justifiable biographical differences,” says Prof Steyn. “This reverse discrimination is particularly important in a country such as South Africa, where the effects of affirmative action could be impacting negatively on the career expectations of men.”

“We are proud of our inspirational research professors and congratulate Professor Steyn on his achievement,” says Dr. Renosi Mokate, the executive director and CEO at the helm of the SBL. “Professor Steyn’s third doctorate provides the corporate sector with research insights that can make a practical difference to the workplace and demonstrates UNISA’s commitment to becoming a leading hub of research and innovation. The SBL is well positioned to facilitate connections between UNISA and the corporate sector, a necessary linkage to spur innovation beyond academic borders.”


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Issue 58