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Title:Affirmative action: rational response to a changing environment
Author:Black, P.A.ISNI
Periodical:South African Journal of Economics
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:black workers
labour relations
labour recruitment
External link:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1813-6982.1993.tb01340.x
Abstract:This paper addresses the following question: why have so many private companies and public institutions in South Africa recently adopted affirmative action (AA) programmes when they have not been legally compelled to do so? It examines one explanation for the voluntary adoption of AA programmes, namely, that it makes good business sense. Profit maximizing (or minimizing) employers may expect the net (private) benefit from implementing an AA programme to be both positive and greater than the corresponding benefit to be had from the next best investment. And if AA requires employers to make costly investments during the initial phase, e.g. through more extensive searching and the provision of on-the-job training, it must follow that they also expect substantial benefits from it in future. The author elaborates on this hypothesis by looking at some of the costs and benefits involved, and argues that AA in South Africa is a rational form of discrimination on the part of employers: it has a favourable impact on transactions with third parties; in particular, the appointment of black personnel to senior positions is partly an image-building exercise aimed at cutting costs and increasing sales. Bibliogr., notes.