A Professional Competency Framework for research managers in Southern Africa

The professionalisation of research management has been a key strategic goal for the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) for some time. To better understand the capacity needs and professional development preferences of the Southern African research management community SARIMA conducted several surveys amongst its members which resulted in a professionalisation strategy. A phased approach was adopted starting with a consultative project to design a Professional Competency Framework (PCF) for research managers in Southern Africa.

The second phase involved the development of a professional recognition programme allowing research managers to demonstrate their competence against the PCF as well as their experiences in and contributions to research management to be awarded professional status. Having achieved such status means that the individual is recognised by peers locally and internationally as an experienced practitioner/professional in research management, with a proven track record. This programme was introduced in 2018 through a pilot phase, followed by an open call for applications in 2019.

The PCF can be adapted and implemented to guide the professional development of research managers at various levels of a research management career and has laid the foundation for the professional recognition programme. The journey to develop the PCF and the resulting learning has been documented and was recently published on the SRAi Blog. This article covers two central facets: at a micro-to-meta level, the development of the PCF and at a macro level, a discussion of how the PCF fits into an unfolding trajectory of the professionalization of research management in the Southern African context.

The article is available at:


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