The Prospects for Corporate Governance Operating as a Vehicle for Social Change in South Africa

Lilian Miles, Mariette Jones

Abstract


A range of scholarly literature has emerged recently which discusses the extent to which the corporate governance regime in South Africa can incorporate the interests of stakeholders. This is a timely question in view of present movements toward such an approach in the country. At face value, adopting an approach which combines the interests of shareholders with those of stakeholders is ideal in a country which is trying to redress the extreme inequalities caused by exploitative and discriminative policies under the apartheid regime. But, as this article will argue, there are significant challenges to be met if this approach is to succeed. The article also questions whether, in the context of an emerging economy, companies are the most appropriate vehicle through which to promote the interests of employees, the environment, the local community and society at large. This article will be structured as follows. Part 1 describes the many socio-economic challenges facing the South African government. Part 2 discusses its corporate governance regime, which imposes a legal duty on directors to adopt an ‘inclusive approach’ whilst managing their business and which continues to reiterate the value of good corporate citizenship and responsibility. Part 3 addresses the difficulties which arise from the inclusive approach. Part 4, which concludes, argues that increased involvement of the state through legal regulation is crucial in order to create a more robust framework in which the needs of society can be met.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/dlr2009vol14no1art131

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