A study to determine to what extent companies in South Africa are prepared to use corporate social responsibility as a developmental tool to alleviate poverty
Thesis (MPhil (School of Public Management and Planning))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
The negative impact of poverty on development and security in South Africa has been exacerbated by high food prices. However, high food prices have also had a positive effect in that it galvanised civil society into coalescing and finally playing an activist role. Looking at the development of corporate social responsibility and how it was shaped by external influences exerted on it by society, the thesis argues that high food prices might be one of those triggers that might change the implementation of corporate social responsibility from that as a business tool to one that is more developmental in its intent. This argument is one that has been proposed by developmental theorists, but has been resisted by companies for various reasons herein discussed. In the same way that corporate social responsibility is shaped by external factors, development is also determined by the macro (economic) policies and state capacity in which the company operates. State incapacity has led the citizens looking at companies increasingly to fulfil a more developmental role. In this regard there are problems attendant to the private sector assuming the responsibilities of the state and the thesis argues that the private sector should rather play a complementary role to development interventions of government. The combination of the factors highlighted above has led to increased pressure on the private sector to play a more developmental role, and there appears to be a degree of acknowledgment from the private sector. This thesis looks critically at some approaches to corporate social responsibility and uses one particular company to illustrate, not only some of the critical factors of successful engagement with development through CSR, such as leadership and context specific interventions, but also to show that development and, particularly, poverty alleviation is compatible with running a profitable organisation.