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Strategic stakeholder management: investor relations in South Africa

George Frederick Nel (School of Accountancy, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Pieter Van Aardt Van der Spuy (School of Accountancy, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa)

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2042-1168

Article publication date: 19 March 2021

Issue publication date: 31 May 2021




The study explores the use of professional investor relations (IR) practices in South African (SA) listed companies to understand which theories may be responsible for IR's adoption and growth in South Africa, an emerging economy. Therefore, this study evaluates shareholder value maximisation, stakeholder and legitimization theory and institutional isomorphism theory as possible theories to explain professional IR behaviour in SA listed companies.


The study design is qualitative and exploratory, based on a questionnaire developed and sent to all companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE).


The results indicate evidence of isomorphic spread to SA environments from practices observed in the UK and the USA, which we find are mostly performed to promote shareholder interests. The data suggest some evidence that the communication needs of black economic empowerment and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investors are given priority, suggesting the utility of professional IR to obtain legitimisation from society. Contrary to expectation is that social media communication channels are not extensively used.

Practical implications

The descriptive nature of this study may be valuable to IR practitioners to improve SA IR practises, while neglected legitimisation opportunities with regard to the needs of ESG and black economic empowerment shareholders may be fruitfully addressed by practitioners.


This study innovates in its use of legitimisation theory and isomorphism theory to develop the study's expectations. Social problems provide contextual elements unique to SA which provides a good opportunity to test the expectation of legitimisation theory's influence on professional IR practices.



The authors thank the Investor Relations Society (South Africa) for their helpful suggestions and support in the development and distribution of the survey and for the permission to use the data in this study, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), for helping with the distribution of the survey for academic research purposes.


Nel, G.F. and Van der Spuy, P.V.A. (2021), "Strategic stakeholder management: investor relations in South Africa", Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 431-448.



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