n Journal of Public Administration - The importance of state-business relations in advancing developmental goals in South Africa - the case for corporate social responsibility

Volume 47, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Contemporary South Africa is a state of contradictions. It is a country well-endowed with natural resources, relatively cheap labour and a well-established corporate/private sector. The political emancipation in 1994 was met with much fanfare and promises and expectations of economic freedom. What escaped the political and economic discourse of the majority of the citizens was the damage inflicted by state-supported business practices on the most vulnerable of the society. The majority of the African poor had justifiable expectations that the state would provide sustainable services and opportunities that were denied under the apartheid system, but the underlying ideology underpinning the reform initiatives had other consequences. Looking into the role the corporate sector and state could play to alleviate poverty, the relations that characterised the dawn of the democratic state was one of suspicion and mistrust (by the state) of established white business. The notion and practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a mechanism of business organisations to position themselves as socially responsible entities can be useful in assisting the state to achieve its developmental goals. This is due to the pressures brought about by globalisation and, in the developing world, the increasing burden faced by governments to provide comprehensive social services. This initiative, CSR, has received mixed reactions from various sectors of business practitioners and researchers, while governments globally have enhanced the environment within which business could explore this initiative. In South Africa, a sizeable number of business organisations are embracing it. The attempt of this article is to interrogate whether CSR can play a meaningful role to enhance state-business relations in South Africa to assist in achieving developmental goals.

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