Original Research - Special Collection: Corporate Governance

Shared value as shared power: Business in South Africa’s democratic transition

Brian Ganson
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 54, No 1 | a3639 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v54i1.3639 | © 2023 Brian Ganson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 2022 | Published: 31 January 2023

About the author(s)

Brian Ganson, Stellenbosch Business School, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Bellville, South Africa


Purpose: This study aimed to better define the boundary conditions of voluntary business engagement for social and economic transformation.

Approach: Case study of the Consultative Business Movement (CBM) in South Africa’s democratic transition through historical narrative and analysis, applying both contemporaneous and contemporary lenses.

Findings: The analysis demonstrates that creating shared value requires shared power, an arrangement into which incumbent businesses may reluctantly enter, and from which they may quickly exit when their own political interests are met but before transformational economic goals have been achieved. Thus, exogenous forces are necessary to dependably shape a private sector that is fully aligned with economic transformation and peaceful development.

Practical implications: Economic and political carrots and sticks combined with the mandatory embedding of business actors in broader networks may be required to ensure that business strategies and operations are more directly the result of consensus reached with more progressive social and economic agents in ways that advance societal goals. Those managers who do want to lead change should take from the experience of CBM the imperative to take no unilateral decisions but rather to share decision-making power with civil society and community actors.

Originality/value: The article challenges and refines discourse that assumes that business interests are broadly aligned with sustainable societal outcomes. It thus sheds light on the boundary conditions for the variety of propositions in the management literature that business and societal aims are largely aligned that have been underexplored.


Business and peace; business and conflict; business in society; shared value; corporate social responsibility; ESG regulation; corporate governance

JEL Codes

K00: General; L20: General; P16: Political Economy

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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Crossref Citations

1. Increasing the competitiveness of business ecosystems by identifying the social values of the regional community
Tatyana Simonyan, Svetlana Tsvetcova, Maria Kolgan, Yulia Medvedeva, M. Pushkarev
E3S Web of Conferences  vol: 460  first page: 02008  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1051/e3sconf/202346002008