Original Research

The private sector's involvement in public policy: Issues and strategies

R. H. Lee, M. T. Bendixen, M. M. Sutherland
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 23, No 3/4 | a891 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v23i3/4.891 | © 2018 R. H. Lee, M. T. Bendixen, M. M. Sutherland | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 October 2018 | Published: 31 December 1992

About the author(s)

R. H. Lee, Graduate School of Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
M. T. Bendixen, Graduate School of Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
M. M. Sutherland, Graduate School of Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Abstract

The private sector in South Africa has become increasingly involved in the public policy process, albeit reluctantly. Both the level of managerial expertise in this field and the academic understanding of this process are extremely limited. We carried out an empirical study on fifty business leaders in South Africa in order to develop a systematic understanding of the business community's involvement in public policy. In the first study of its kind, statistical analyses were carried out on both the private sector's public policy issue prioritization and strategy selection and usage patterns. The prioritization of selected strategies revealed that the business community had adopted a set of 'insider' strategies in order to influence the public policy process, reflecting a 'toenadering' in the relationship between the business community and government. The diversity within the private sector, of both the process and content of public policy involvement, is empirically documented via the use of correspondence analysis, resulting in the inherent structure of the private sector's public policy involvement being well represented in two dimensional space. The major differentiating factors being the choice between confrontational or 'insider' strategies and the choice between economic or socio-political issues. From this basis, a strategic management approach towards socio-political involvement for the business community is developed. This is based on the use of a matrix incorporating factors such as change processes, power bases, issue life cycles and resources within business organizations; leading to the selection of appropriate strategies in order to influence change in public policy. It is hoped that this article will assist South African management in the optimal allocation of resources to socio-political activities.

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