Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Professor Nicholas Rush Smith

Second Advisor

Professor Jeffrey Kucik


public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, ICT and education, employment in South Africa


Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, government, business leaders and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are in a unique position to engage civil society and link educational institutions with industry-specific partners committed to stimulating economic development and employment options for citizens. This thesis explores the conditions under which public-private partnerships (PPPs) are likely to successfully generate sustainable youth employment and equip citizens with transferrable skills and the conditions under which they are likely not to generate opportunities. The thesis argues that PPPs are most likely to be successful when there is grassroots buy in from local communities. Based on the literature and contemporary international development initiatives, the contention is the country’s current cyber caste system has created a digital elite that has left a swath of the population under age 35 with limited skills and training for jobs in the information, communications and technology sector. Recent advances in ICT, fostered by PPPs, could allow South African citizens to leapfrog forward and train for future jobs—expanding what is now a cloistered, technologically advanced sector for the privileged. Evidence presented in this thesis shows PPPs are becoming more prominent as economic and development tools. PPPs help large numbers of South Africans break free from the shackles of Bantu education practices that have resulted in a new form of “digital apartheid” in which non-white youth have fewer opportunities to access the digital realm than white youth. These partnerships are tremendously important in a global, information and knowledge based economy. When closely aligned with schools, higher education, training programs and the community, PPPs have the opportunity to 6 strategically fit into the country’s economic development process and provide a mechanism by which South African citizens can earn economic equality. Microsoft, General Electric and PACE College are offered as case studies that reveal strategies transnational companies (TNCs) and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can deploy or refine, resulting in mutually beneficial outcomes for citizens who crave transferrable, portable technology skills and employers who value and reward ICT ready talent.



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