This article considers the South African black economic empowerment (BEE) programme, with an emphasis on the sector charters in mining and finance, to investigate the extent to which these developments may be characterised in terms of collaborative governance. It argues that the genesis and content of the charters do represent important elements of collaborative governance, including a reliance on interest-based negotiation and an expectation that business contributes to the public benefit as good corporate citizens. But underlying these elements have been more powerful drivers related to power-based bargaining, whereby international investors have emerged as key, albeit ill-defined, stakeholders in South Africa's post-apartheid transition. The role of corporate citizenship has been limited, despite efforts by business to portray the outcomes and agreements in terms of business voluntarism and enlightened self-interest. The article thus re-emphasises the role of the state in defining and enforcing a social role for big business. It raises concerns that the BEE programme charters prejudice more fundamental socio-economic transformation in the interests of the established corporations, and it calls for more research on how BEE is being implemented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science