The University of Waikato will today launch a joint venture with e-commerce company Southfresh to create what amounts to a New Zealand e-commerce centre of excellence.
The university’s management school will combine with Southfresh, which specialises in online transactions of fresh fish, to run a programme staffed primarily by the university’s MBA students. It is believed no one else in the world has yet embedded a functional, trading e-commerce operation in a university. Capital, software and support will come from Southfresh, while the university will provide students and management. The application service provider will be Unisys. It is hoped that the project will see the creation of wealth-creating e-businesses at the end of the course, with all participants receiving equity shares.
A spokesperson for the school, Sarah Knox, says the project is part of a redirection of the MBA programme. “New Zealand is dominated by small to medium [-sized] businesses but New Zealand’s management programmes have traditionally placed more emphasis on producing graduates to work for the major corporates. We’ve recognised that future wealth creation is likely to stem from the SMEs and that New Zealand cannot afford to neglect this important sector of the economy. E-commerce is a central element of unlocking the wealth-creating potential of SMEs,” she says.
One speaker at the launch will be Southfresh chairman Neville Jordan, who is also the founder of Nasdaq-listed Mas Technology.
“What I would like to see is people who understand ethics, human behaviour and how groups react. And a lot of this goes back to the early classical philosophers,” he says.
“I can’t help thinking that we teach people vocational skills too early when we should be teaching them how to think and how to understand how people behave and what values drive them.”