Original Research

Pathways for retaining human capital in academic departments of a South African university

Luyanda Dube, Patrick Ngulube
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 15, No 2 | a560 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v15i2.560 | © 2013 Luyanda Dube, Patrick Ngulube | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2013 | Published: 29 July 2013

About the author(s)

Luyanda Dube, Department of Information Science, University of South Africa, South Africa
Patrick Ngulube, Department of Interdisciplinary Research and Postgraduate Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Background: The article underscores the process of knowledge retention for academics in select academic departments in the College of Human Sciences (CHS) at the University of South Africa (UNISA). The knowledge economy is ubiquitous and necessitates that organisations foster innovation and improve efficiency, effectiveness, competitiveness and productivity through knowledge retention. In an academic setting, which is the focus of this article, the situation is no different because there seems to be an accord worldwide that the quality of higher education largely depends on the qualifications of staff and professorial capability in quality research, instruction and doctoral level certification. By implication, it is critical that the retention of knowledge should be prioritised to ensure the curtailment of the impact of knowledge attrition.

Objective: The study intends to profile knowledge assets in CHS, determine retention strategies and offer suggestions about regenerating knowledge retention initiatives.

Research methodology: A quantitative approach, more specifically the informetrics technique of data mining, was adopted to profile academics in CHS at UNISA.

Results: The results confirm the assertion that there is a discrepancy between senior academics who are probably due to leave the university in the next few years, and entrants who will replace them. The issue is worsened by the lack of an institutional framework to guide, standardise, strengthen or prioritise the process of knowledge retention.

Conclusion: The study recommends the prioritisation, formalisation and institutionalisation of knowledge retention through the implementation of a broad range of knowledge retention strategies.


Knowledge; Knowledge management; Knowledge retention; University of South Africa


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