Organisational and Institutional Studies

A multidisciplinary approach to the study of the state and civil society

Organisational and Institutional Studies (OIS) is a new programme in the School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, coordinated by the Public Affairs Research Institute. The programme offers ways to understand organisations and institutions of government and a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the state and civil society.

What is OIS?

Internationally there have been important developments in the study of the state, focusing on the organisations and institutions that comprise it. For instance, how do rules, norms, or policies, influence behaviour? Do organisations have a logic of their own, or are they simply a collection of individual actions? Recent advancements across the social sciences have identified the answers to these very questions as key determinants of economic inequality, policy reform, state formation, service delivery, and state capture. Indeed, the study of institutions can unlock many of the central political challenges facing nations across the globe.

In South Africa however, the various approaches to studying institutions have been unevenly developed. Thus this programme brings together insights from the fields of Political Science, Sociology, Economics, and Anthropology to provide in-depth observation and analysis of how institutions shape power dynamics and impact major political outcomes.

Qualifications and Opportunities

The programme currently offers Honours and Masters degrees in Social Sciences with a specialisation in Organisational and Institutional Studies.

The programme is offered through a collaboration between the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) and the School of Social Sciences. PARI is affiliated to Wits, and a leading research institute thinking about the state in South Africa and the global South. Employing ethnographic and historical methodologies it works inside government and civil-society organisations to understand where power lies in these organisations and how it is exercised, in order to develop recommendations for improved governance, accountability and organisational performance.

OIS students have opportunities throughout their studies to engage with PARI’s work and researchers, and to understand the environment that their own research is geared towards. PARI offers a limited number of scholarships to successful applicants each year.

Who Should Apply?

Students with a bachelor’s degree in Humanities are especially welcomed. A degree in Organisational and Institutional Studies is beneficial for students interested in the following possible careers:

  • Academic Researcher
  • Lecturer
  • Public Policy Researcher
  • Policy Analyst
  • Project Coordinator
  • Project Manager
  • Public Service Consultant