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The Role of Public Policy in Private Sector Development

Francis Fukuyama

It is widely recognised that private sector performance is a key factor driving any country’s growth and development, and that government policies and programmes can either stimulate or inhibit sustainable growth in the private sector.

Long under-appreciated, however, has been the importance of the individuals who design those policies and programmes: the local government officials and members of the private sector making the decisions that frame the business environment.


 The programme

The course is presented in collaboration with the Leadership Academy for Development (LAD), an affiliate of Stanford University, and addresses some of the challenges faced by public sector leaders as they foster economic growth in politically-charged environments. This course was run successfully in 2011, 2013 and 2015, and facilitated by international and national trainers and experts.

The course is a 5-day, intensive programme for a small number of high level government officials and business leaders from South Africa and other African countries (25-30 in total). It explores how government can encourage and enable the private sector to play a more effective, productive role in economic growth and development.


The curriculum is designed to reinforce and illustrate three critically important hypotheses about the role of public policy in private sector development:

1. Public policy matters! The performance of the private sector and its role as either a catalyst or an obstacle to economic growth is closely connected to how well or badly government policies are designed and implemented.

2.  The public officials responsible for enhancing private sector participation must acquire a range of analytical skills to be effective. But policy reform is not like engineering or other technical fields where there is a clear optimal solution to a problem. Designing and implementing meaningful policy reform requires an interdisciplinary knowledge of economics, politics, local history and culture, combined with a sense of how to set priorities, sequence actions and build coalitions.

3.  Successful policy outcomes that encourage and strengthen private sector participation are contingent upon the capacity of government officials and business leaders to understand and appreciate the interests, motivations and objectives of their counterparts.

 The course objectives are achieved through a combination of lectures and case studies, delivered using the Harvard Business School case study teaching method. The lectures provide participants with an analytical framework for thinking about the intersection between public policy and the private sector’s role as a driver for economic growth and development. The case studies, drawn from Africa, Asia and the Americas, describe actual examples of public policy initiatives designed to strengthen the private sector’s role in the economy. Each case requires participants to assume the role of a policy-maker or private sector actor who must conduct rigorous analysis and then reach a decision about a specific policy initiative or investment.


Who should attend the course?

  1. Mid-level to senior government officials with responsibility for crafting and executing policies designed to attract higher levels of private sector participation that will spur economic growth and development, and
  2. Strategic leaders from the business community.


Upcoming courses

It is not anticipated that this course will be delivered in 2018. Please email the Executive Education team on veleska.maphike@uct.ac.za for enquiries about the next available enrolment option.