|dc.description.abstract||Fifteen years ago, Maistry (2005) drew attention to the fact that there was a dearth of research on Business Education. Research in the field of Business Education has increased exponentially since then. Master’s and Doctoral students, as significant contributors to the knowledge economy in the 21st century, have researched different aspects of Business Education. This research explores the intellectual projects in Business Education of a sample of Master’s and Doctoral studies. At the same time as addressing the research aims of the study, the in-depth analysis of these theses and dissertations has led to valuable insight into the field of Business Education. The particular aims of this study were to (a) explore what constitutes education in the 21st century landscape in South Africa; (b) identify literature with regard to current trends in the Business Education curriculum in South Africa; (c) establish the theoretical gaps, contextual trends, and future directions for Business Education in South Africa based on the analysis of Master’s and Doctoral studies conducted between 1997 and 2018; and (d) ascertain whether the Business Education curriculum in South Africa is aligned with the needs of South African citizens in the 21st century.
The methodological framework used was a qualitative meta-study. Critical theory best complemented this study since it enabled me to critically engage with my study on a theoretical and methodological level. Habermas’s perspective on critical theory, which directly resonates with the work of Freire’s emancipatory theory, underpins this study on curriculum development. Habermas’s theory of communicative action enabled me to engage with the purposive sample of 118 Master’s and Doctoral studies. The criteria used to select the sample were successfully completed theses and dissertations at South African public universities in faculties of Economic and Management Sciences, faculties of Education, and faculties where technology degrees related to Business Education are offered. The studies selected all have a title that was related to education. This study focused on theses and dissertations from 1997 to 2018 because 1997 was when Business Education became a priority in the education system. It took me from 2017, when I commenced my studies in 2017 to the end of 2018 to have enough data to start my data analysis in 2019. The theses and dissertations focused on different levels of education, including higher education, teacher education, school education, and vocational education. For the purpose of this study, I have chosen to refer only to education in general and not to each type of education in the literature, findings and contributions. Clearly, a study confined to one level of education would not have provided a sufficient basis for reaching conclusions on optimal Business Education for South African citizens in the 21st century. Another criterion was that only theses and
dissertations that were written in English would be used in the interests of language consistency. Since Atlas.ti™ software was used for data analysis purposes, theses and dissertations also had to be electronically available and not too large to scan. A pilot study was conducted to (a) determine if the Master’s and Doctoral studies should be analysed separately as the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) lists different outcomes for these; (b) arrive at the review questions to be used for data analysis purposes; (c) establish initial codes and determine inclusion and exclusion criteria, (d) determine whether the data were relevant to the research questions, and (e) ensure the trustworthiness and validity of the data analysis process. Ten per cent of the 118 studies were used for the pilot study. The pilot study focused on nine Master’s studies and three Doctoral studies. There were far more Master’s studies in the initial cull and, therefore, more Master’s studies were included in the pilot study. I did an inductive analysis of the theses and dissertations. This involved two data analysis cycles. The first data analysis cycle focused on open coding. The second data analysis cycle consisted of axial and selective coding. The process of open, axial, and selective coding formed part of thematic analysis.
The interpretations and findings derived from the meta-study revealed five contextual trends in Business Education within the South African context. These include a) neo-liberal agendas in Business Education, b) the integration of 21st century learning in Business Education, c) integration and fragmentation of independent entities in the Business Education curriculum, d) massification, marketisation, and commercialisation of Business Education in relation to dropout rates, and e) emerging trends in changing the Business Education context. The theoretical gaps and future directions were identified within each of these contextual trends.
The data revealed that the majority of Master’s and Doctoral students often view Business Education from a narrow perspective as an instrument which is focused on growth momentum. The “benefits” of this instrumentalism are a two-edged sword. They have negative effects such as widening the inequality divide in South Africa. In South Africa, the Business Education curriculum is situated in a Tylerian mould. The Tylerian rationale as a reactive force of currere is inadequate since it led to the ossification of potential movements, the domestication of the self, the deterritorialisation of discipline knowledge, and the emergence of transdisciplinary trajectories, among other things. Freire is critical of Tyler’s top-down approach. His work led to currere being seen as an active force. For Freire, education and curriculum should be non-egoic, de-hierarichal and inter-communicative. Freire proposes the emancipatory theory as an alternative to the Tylerian approach. The emancipatory theory uses a problem-solving method that necessitates dialogue and critical participation between educators, community members, and students to develop critical consciousness of the world in which they find themselves. Freire’s work directly resonates with those of Habermas since they both focused on the action of
deliberation to beget change. Tyler’s rationale and Freire’s emancipation theory underpinned this study with specific reference to currere as a reactive force and to currere as an active force. Although the Business Education curriculum continues to be dominated by a single bottom line of economic prosperity, there are signs that Master’s and Doctral students are starting to shift their perspective. The data revealed emerging trends in Business Education such as social awareness, environmental awareness, social justice, sustainable development, and ethics. These emerging trends could form part of a benchmark for international comparison of curricula, especially in countries such as South Africa that have emerging economies. If not clearly stated, these emerging trends could be interpreted as an instrument for social change or emancipation. However, one must be cautious not to substitute one form of instrumentalism in Business Education for another. It would be better to reach a dialogical understanding through asking critical questions on how Business Education is understood.
The work presented in this thesis makes a theoretical and contextual contribution to understanding Business Education in the South African context. This study also identifies theoretical gaps in Master’s and Doctoral studies. These include (a) differentiated interpretations of 21st century learning, (b) the voices of different stakeholders to reform the Business Education curriculum, (c) international historical moments as a benchmark for curriculum reform, (d) homo economicus and the lack of Ubuntu, and (e) Business Education as an instrument.
Finally, I make evidence-based recommendations for further research. Critical research could be conducted into transcendental accounts of Business Education in the 21st century South Africa, ontological questioning of the inherent nature of Business Education, and support programmes to promote the effective use of technologies in Business Education classrooms in South Africa. In addition, different factors that affect the dropout rates in Business Education in South Africa could be researched. The possible contribution the voices of students, curriculum developers, practitioners, and community members could make to reforming or transforming the Business Education field needs to be investigated. As a final recommendation, meta-study design as an explorative gateway to unite the literature and the data could present new avenues for research and theoretical and contextual insights.||en_US