Decision-making and Knowledge Management creates versatile professional individuals

Decision-making and Knowledge Management. This is the new name of the Stellenbosch University (SU) degree course that until recently was known as Value and Policy Studies.

The BA degree in Value and Policy Studies produced its first students in 1996. It was a particularly successful course that attracted a great deal of interest, especially from leaders in the business world.

In the mean time, the course content grew as the knowledge economy expanded and changed.

“It became necessary to give the course a new name that linked to its dynamic nature and reflected the changes in the field,” explains Prof Hans Müller, Chairperson of the Department of Information Science.

“The BA in Decision-making and Knowledge Management is unique in that it combines economic and management sciences with social sciences. SU is the only university in South Africa and in Africa to offer this degree course.”

Ms Elaine Fouché, a lecturer in Information Science, adds that the course contributes to the shaping of  versatile professionals.

“Students are given the opportunity to compile their own course from subjects in the social sciences as well as the economic and management sciences.”

According to Müller and Fouché, the current technological work environment is of such a nature that someone who is fired from a certain position or leaves it by choice cannot be certain that the specific work will exist somewhere else in the same format.

“Companies are constantly looking for creative thinkers and people who can solve problems in a creative way,” says Fouché.

Müller adds: “Something like decision-making analysis entails a combination of analytical elements and elements of knowledge management that simultaneously requires analytical and creative abilities. Knowledge management is the ability to do real-time analyses and to use the knowledge immediately to address possible problems.”

Fouché uses the following practical example: “In mining, the experts know immediately how many tons are being mined and the grade of the mined product. Should a problem arise, for example if mining is being done in a mineral-poor area, a manager would be able to use information technology and analysis to take an immediate decision to rather mine elsewhere so that valuable manpower hours are not wasted.”

Students who complete the BA in Decision-making and Knowledge Management therefore become versatile professional people – although they are not trained for a specific job, they can find work in almost any field (the economic, marketing, analytical or business world).

Admission requirements include matric geometry with at least code 6 (70%) for those who want to take Mathematics at first-year level, and code 5 (60%) for those who do not want to take Mathematics at first-year level, and code 5 (60%) in the home language or first additional language.

Third-year students have to do an internship of three weeks. They apply for the internship themselves. Before the work period they undertake a strategic analysis of the company and then do an investigation in the company on the basis of previously devised problem statements during the internship. At the end of the internship they have to do a complete submission on their research.

“The BA in Decision-making and Knowledge Management is the only three-year programme that requires an internship from students,” says Müller.

The degree course is not offered as an extended degree programme, but provides many opportunities for a postgraduate programme in social sciences or in economic and management sciences.

For information on the course: 021 808 2423.