n Journal of Public Administration - Reinvigorating Corporate Social Investment (CSI) with blockchain technology

Volume 54 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with it several technologies. These include nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology and blockchain. The benefits of these technologies are endless. Corporate Social Investment (CSI) is the main arm through which the corporates are required to fulfil their social responsibilities to the communities in which they operate. During the 2015/2016 financial year in South Africa, this investment totalled R8.6 billion. Through the provision of much needed resources, CSI enables corporates to strategically partner with and invest in Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) initiatives that create shared value by enhancing their competitiveness while simultaneously contributing to the advancement, welfare and wellbeing of society. However, given the sheer size of funding in circulation, the lack of NPO financial transparency and measurement, and the inherent problems that still exist in society, some sceptics state that the current model of social investment is broken, and they question how much funding actually ends up helping the people NPOs claim to assist. A data-driven revolution to build trust, deliver greater, more transparent impact, and drive systematic change in society is long overdue, and blockchain, the latest buzzword in the world of data and technology, could hold the key. This article is derived from a study conducted to explore CSI decision making and control mechanisms, current challenges faced in South Africa due to the lack of measurement and accountability, and potential opportunities to enhance the impact of NPOs and CSI in order to craft a tailor-made solution that harnesses the power of blockchain technology to reinvigorate CSI in South Africa. A qualitative research design was chosen to conduct this study among JSE listed companies in South Africa. Some of the key findings highlight that when corporates assess a prospective NPO partner, their strategic fit and the feasibility of undertaking a CSI project need to be considered. It is also essential that NPOs are more accountable and transparent in their actions, which could increase the likelihood of potential CSI sustainable partnerships that both corporate organisations and NPOs should also intensify collaborative sharing of and learning from each other's lessons and efficiencies to benefit society more effectively.

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