The NWU’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences again took top honours at this year’s Excellence in Research Awards on 27 October. The faculty won the titles of Most Productive Senior Researcher and Most Productive Junior Researcher, just as they did last year.

Many outstanding staff members from other disciplines were also acknowledged for excellence in research, innovation, community involvement and creativity.


Tourism at the NWU continues to rake in the awards. Prof Melville Saayman from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences on the campus in Potchefstroom is the NWU’s most productive senior researcher for 2016.


Melville has now received this honour for the fifth time since 2009, demonstrating the consistent excellence of his research. He is the director of the research focus area Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES).


Prof Leon de Beer, also from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, is this year’s most productive junior researcher.


For the fourth consecutive year, the award for the most productive research entity went to Reformed Theology and the Development of the South African Society, a research unit in the Faculty of Theology.


The unit has a dedicated team of 19 permanent staff members and published an impressive 103 articles in accredited journals in 2016.

Research is the backbone


The guest speaker at the Excellence in Research Awards was Prof Olive Shisana, honorary professor of the University of Cape Town.


“Research is the backbone of development in any country. It offers solutions to the many challenges that society faces in all sectors.” She highlighted the three challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality that need to be addressed and where researchers can make significant contributions in realising the objectives of the NDP.


Among the top universities


Prof Nancy (Refilwe) Phaswana-Mafuya, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, says the NWU has a prominent international profile and impact. The university is ranked in the top five in South Africa and in the top 500 globally due to the hard work and dedication of its researchers and innovators.


She says the NWU is committed to increasing the number of NRF-rated researchers, new contract research projects, disclosures, patents, research and innovation themes, doctoral graduates and postdoctoral fellows, as well as research entities.

Click below to listen to our winners.

Click here for the complete list of award winners and achievers.






are a hard act to follow

Prof Melville Saayman is the NWU’s Most Productive Researcher for the third year in a row. His research has made meaningful contributions to better tourism management.

Hover on the images to read more.

The trophy for Most Productive Junior Researcher went to Prof Leon de Beer of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

Prof Ferdi Kruger, director of the research unit Reformed Theology and the Development of the South African Society, received the award for Most Productive Research Entity on behalf of the unit. It was the fourth win in a row for the entity.

Prof Melville Saayman’s research addresses poverty alleviation through tourism and deals with aspects such as job creation and how tourism improves and enhances people’s quality of life. It also looks at how tourists value wildlife species in South Africa. “For me personally, the award is recognition for the commitment to doing research, since the criteria cover a variety of aspects, from the number of published scientific articles to the amount raised for research projects. Most of my writing time is over weekends, holidays and evenings – as most researchers would know – and the award serves as an acknowledgement of this effort.” According to Melville the award is also important to the research entity that he represents, TREES. He says this achievement is not his alone but is for his co-authors and staff too.
Prof Leon de Beer’s research focuses mostly on employee motivational states in organisations. He is from the WorkWell Research Unit, whose research assists business and industry to become more efficient. “Recognising researchers through awards such as these provides a sense of self-efficacy, achievement and appreciation. I would like to thank all my colleagues, locally and internationally, for their collaboration, insights and advice. I am also thankful that the NWU provides an environment that is conducive to research and supports me in my development as a researcher when called upon. “I’d like to quote the wise words of Albertg Szent- Györgyi, ‘Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought’."
“Our research entity is sincerely grateful for the recognition we received as the most productive research entity at the NWU, based on all research outputs for 2016.” He says although their research may be viewed as a small contribution within the research community, their focus is to make a meaningful impact in addressing the daunting challenges facing South Africa. “It is truly our vision to contribute towards the development of the South African society through scholarly and scientific practice. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the researchers, national as well as international, associated with our research entity, for their zeal in being part of this work.”