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The IBC - A Decade of Excellence

Publish date:2017-07-17

Since its inception a decade ago, the International Business Conference (IBC) has become a well-established academic conference, despite its humble beginnings in 2007.

In 2005 three South African business schools, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Business School, Potchefstroom Business School and the Business School of Tshwane University of Technology, met in Port Elizabeth to discuss collaboration between them. The business schools were represented by Prof Kobus Jonker, Prof Tommy du Plessis and Prof Sonja Swanepoel respectively.

The group decided to form an organisation called Business School Partner’s Network (BSPN) to establish a voice for the smaller business schools in South Africa. The founder schools were later joined by four other business schools namely the University of the Free State Business School, Rhodes University Business School, the Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) and Millpark Business School.

The BSPN group of business schools established a number of initiatives for these schools including, inter alia, the establishment of the IBC (International Business Conference). The first IBC was hosted in Mauritius in 2007 and was attended by 44 delegates. This was followed by conferences in Port Elizabeth (2008) and Zanzibar (2009). NMMU Business School hosted the first three conferences with Prof Kobus Jonker serving as the conference chair.

Prof Tommy du Plessis was elected conference chair for the next four conferences. These were held at the Victoria Falls in Livingstone Zambia (2010), Mombasa Kenya (2011), Mauritius (2012) and the Seychelles (2013) respectively. His team from Potchefstroom Business School was the organisers, and Prof Christo Bischoff and Mrs Antoinette Bisschoff managed the paper review process and registration of delegates.

At the 2013 IBC Conference it was decided to reconstitute the IBC Conference such that it would be owned by the delegates and be governed by an elected conference board. The Conference Board is elected by the delegates duly representing Business Management Departments and Business Schools from the majority of universities in South Africa. It is also part of the vision to seek partnerships with other institutions in Africa and internationally. Prof Kobus Jonker served from 2014 to 2016 as chair of this new IBC Conference Board, with Prof Christo Bisschoff as co-chair. Prof Stephan van der Merwe was the Director of the Scientific Committee and Dr Cobus Oosthuizen the Financial Director. Conferences during this time were held in Swakopmund, Namibia (2014), Victoria Falls (2015) and Langebaan in the Western Cape (2016). The number of delegates steadily grew over the years and in 2016 133 delegates participated in the event.

The IBC prides itself on a rigorous scientific review process. Following a desk review process, accepted papers are dispatched for a double blind peer review by local and international academia. Positive reviewers’ reports from both reviewers are required for a paper to be accepted. Papers that have not been published before are considered for presentation and publication in the IBC proceedings. All previous IBC conferences have met the criteria for subsidy set by the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). At present, the 2016 conference, which was held at the Club Mykonos, Langebaan, is undergoing the rigorous process to qualify for a subsidy. The Scientific Committee positively awaits the outcome of this process. It entails, however, typically a two-year process.

Reviewers can also nominate papers for the Best Paper Award. This process includes a panel of independent reviewers and is managed by the Director of the Scientific Committee of the IBC Board. The nomination process includes independent reviewing at three different levels by external reviewers. IBC Board members are prohibited from taking part in this process.

A new IBC Board executive committee was elected at the 2016 conference at Langebaan. The committee consists of Prof Stephan van der Merwe (Conference Chair), Dr Cobus Oosthuizen (Organising Director), Dr Johan van Zyl (Financial Director) and Prof Mornay Roberts-Lombard (Marketing Director) and will serve for the next three years. According to Prof Stephan van der Merwe, the IBC has three main goals. The first goal is to provide an international platform for the presentation, discussion and debate of different academic and professional approaches and research on recent developments in an ever turbulent and dynamic business and political arena. The second goal is to provide the opportunity for academics, practitioners and post-graduate students to have their work validated and benchmarked within the benevolent academic and professional community. The final goal is to create a pleasant and enjoyable environment to serve the first two goals where delegates can also relax, get to know their fellow academia informally and truly build their networks.

The IBC 2017 conference will be hosted at the White Sands Hotel in Dar es Salaam Tanzania from 24-27 September. Millpark Business School (organising committee and registrations) and the NWU School of Business and Governance (scientific committee and paper reviews) will organise the event. The Board is also conversing with potential Africa university partners to contribute towards spreading the news about the conference and making it a truly Africa and international event.

Prof Van der Merwe regards it as a great privilege, but also a huge responsibility to chair the IBC. Many individuals and institutions have played a critical role over the past decade to establish and grow the conference. The newly elected Conference Board should build on the good work done in previous years. Prof Van der Merwe's personal vision of the IBC is that the conference continue to offer a platform for young and experienced scholars and business people to network. His personal dream, however, is to position the conference as a truly international conference with the focus on mentoring and developing young researchers in Africa.



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