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The changing face and strategies of big business in South Africa: more than a decade of political democracy

Neo Chabane, Simon Roberts and Andrea Goldstein

Industrial and Corporate Change, 2006, vol. 15, issue 3, 549-577

Abstract: Under the apartheid regime, South African business was marked by a high degree of concentration, both in terms of ownership and activities; indeed, it could be argued that this concentration was both created by and reinforced the exclusions linked to apartheid. In this paper, we identify the main changes that have characterized South Africa's big business since democracy in 1994--unbundling of traditional conglomerates, transfer of primary listing to overseas stock exchanges, and slow emergence of black-owned economic groups. These changes are related to key policy actions taken by government, including liberalization, black economic empowerment (BEE) policies, and competition policies. We demonstrate that South Africa still maintains its own distinctive features, including the very large, although reduced, weight of a few conglomerates, while evolving toward structures more similar to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) norms. Finally, we argue that the policy emphasis on ownership transfers, combined with limits in the enforcement of competition policies, has restricted the capacity to generate additional jobs and meet the ultimate objectives of BEE. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2006
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Industrial and Corporate Change is currently edited by David Teece, Glenn R. Carroll, Nick Von Tunzelmann, Giovanni Dosi and Franco Malerba

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