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Making business sustainable: corporate social responsibility in South Africa: A research on the promotion of CSR in South African business life by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands.

Postma, Jelle (2011) Making business sustainable: corporate social responsibility in South Africa: A research on the promotion of CSR in South African business life by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands.

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Abstract:Findings When looking at the Netherlands and South Africa, it is visible that both countries increasingly regard CSR as being important. Both countries have developed and updated CSR-related policies several times during the last decade. There are differences in the focus points, but transparency and corporate accountability are, just as sustainable development, underlined by both nations. Both countries refer to the GRI as guidelines for transparent reporting. Sustainability is encouraged in South Africa through Socio-Economic Development: investing in historically disadvantaged South Africans in order to create their sustainable access to the economy. The Dutch put more emphasis on embedding CSR in the business core to obtain sustainability. When taking a closer look on CSR, multiple differences between both countries show up. The position of the government for instance: the Dutch government fulfills a supportive role, whereas the South African government regulates the usage of CSR to a large extend. Differences are also visible when looking at the aim of the policies (international-domestic) and the institutional contexts (public-private cooperation vs. cooperation in the private sector). Where the Dutch CSR-practices fit the ‘European’ way of conducting CSR (people, profit and planet, combined with a multi-stakeholder dialogue), South Africa is more similar to the ‘American’ way (CSR is characterized by philanthropy and corporate branding). The most important added values that the Embassy and Dutch corporations have are sustainable trade development, environmental expertise, knowledge sharing and pragmatic policy development. Dutch companies that operate in South Africa should be aware of the fact that they are often regarded as being front runners for CSR. They should pay specific attention to sustainability in their CSR practices instead of making ‘easy’ philanthropic investments in third-party projects. Also, attention should be paid to the workforce and the working environment. Recommendations The first recommendation for the Embassy is the erection of a CSR discussion forum. The forum should embrace an open character in order to make it easy approachable. Specific focus should be put on promoting the sustainable character of CSR practices. Further, the forum should aim at the promotion of a clarified and integrated CSR strategy that is different from philanthropy. The second recommendation regards pragmatism in CSR approaches. To increase the effect of CSR-related policies and legislation in South Africa, the Embassy might use Dutch policy experts to support local South African governments with adding a stronger pragmatic approach in CSR-related policies. Also, attention should be paid to effectively linking BBBEE and CSR agendas, for these concepts are often used separate from each other instead of integrated. Finally, the Embassy should encourage the government to create more collaboration between public and private sectors. Companies often fill in the governmental capacity gaps, but only little monitoring and alignment between both sectors is visible. Dutch companies are requested to actively practice CSR strategies. It is recommended to aim for an integrated approach near the core of the business instead of making third-party investments. Companies should comply to all minimum CSR-requirements and are encouraged to take steps beyond these requirements. Important focus points are SED-projects, the workforce and working conditions and formal business processes such as transparent reporting, CSR down the supply chain or prevention of corruption. Also, investments in the poorer rural areas are requested, for the impact of companies on these regions tends to be high. Finally, companies are encouraged to participate in knowledge sharing initiatives and CSR discussion platforms.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration BSc (56627)
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