Antoinette Valsamakis

The role of South African business in South Africa’s post-apartheid economic diplomacy

Supervisors: Donna Lee, Nicola Smith

Thus far there has been little / no study of South African business in economic diplomacy and this research uncovers and seeks to explain the role of business in South Africa’s post-apartheid economic diplomacy. Since there is little existing literature pertaining to business and South Africa’s economic diplomacy, the research is of necessity empirical in nature. 

The aim of this research is to formulate an analytical framework that will enable an analysis of the extent to which and ways in which business actors engage in South Africa’s economic diplomacy, with the view to developing testable hypotheses. The analytical framework applied in the research is based on three key elements to understanding the factors that determine the extent of business engagement and the ways in which business engages in South Africa’s economic diplomacy:

  • Actors - which business interests engage and can a hypothesis towards a typology of business engaging in economic diplomacy be developed?
  • Goals / interests - what are the key goals of business actors engaging in economic diplomacy? How are actors’ interests shaped and how would shifts in interests during negotiations or processes be explained?
  • Strategies - which strategies do business actors employ to achieve their goals? Do these change and how might the use of different strategies be explained?


I am a part-time post-graduate researcher and work part-time for a risk management consultancy, focusing on political and sustainability risk. I was born and grew up in South Africa and have 15 years working as a community development project manager, then in corporate social responsibility (reporting and consulting) and latterly in conflict resolution and mediation (in a tri-partite business, labour and government social partnership). I was fortunate to be part of the Independent Electoral Commission which oversaw South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994. During the time that I have been doing my research I tutored for the Open University for 3 years as an Associate Lecturer on a third year international politics and economics course, entitled ‘A World of Whose Making’.


  • BA Hons Political Science (University of Johannesburg, South Africa – UJ)
  • MA (Thesis) Political Science (UJ)
  • MSc International Political Economy (LSE)

Research interests

  • Economic diplomacy
  • Business and Politics
  • Global Economic Governance (focus on the WTO)
  • Major developing countries in the global order (focus on South Africa)
  • Emerging MNCs in the global economy

Professional memberships

  • British International Studies Association
  • International Studies Association

Conference papers

‘The role of business stakeholders as non-state actors in economic diplomacy: bringing agency back into diplomacy.’ British International Studies Association, Cambridge, December 2007.

 ‘Engaging with the world: Corporate South Africa and the rise of non-OECD multinationals in global economic governance’, British International Studies Association, Exeter, December, 2008

 ‘Conceptualising Corporate South Africa in Global Economic Governance’, International Studies Association, New York, February, 2009.


Leresche A. (1993) ‘Women in Employment’, in Innes D (Editor) Reversing Discrimination, Cape Town: Oxford University Press. (Published in my former name)