A Curriculum Framework for the Professional Development of Corporate Social Responsibility Practitioners in South Africa

Christopher P.A. McCreanor, Elias M. Bitzer


The role of governments as the exclusive social change agent and macro socio-economic problem solver is rapidly weakening. Businesses are increasingly seen as catalysts for social transformation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practitioners are appointed as their transformation agents. With CSR practitioners being responsible for managing projects for social change within communities that corresponds with legislation and industry charters, CSR and business thought leaders in South Africa acknowledge a critical CSR practitioner skills deficit within emerging economies. With the CSR practitioner skills deficit as departure point, the reported study aimed at answering the following research question: What constitutes a curriculum framework for the professional development of CSR practitioners in emerging markets like South Africa? A mixed-methods explanatory study, involving three distinct phases was undertaken, from which a hierarchical competency framework emerged. This framework involves eight high-level factors and 22 dimensions at the competency level and 100 components at the behavioural level. This paper explores the proposed curriculum framework for the professional development of entry to mid-career CSR practitioners in South Africa and discusses the critical competencies required to be a successful CSR practitioner in an emerging market. It claims to be the first validated curriculum and critical competency framework for the professional development of CSR practitioners within South Africa and thus is a valuable resource and guideline for curriculum designers and policy makers when considering the design, development and implementation of a CSR programme or qualification in similar emerging economies.