Selective informality: The self-limiting growth choices of small businesses in south africa

Christine Bischoff, Geoffrey Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Based on in-depth interviews, this study explores the reasons why many South African small businesses abide by some aspects of labour law, but not others: they generally comply with legislated labour regulations, but less so with regulations set by the statutory industry-level Bargaining Councils. Such selective engagement with the system is attributed to employer hostility to unions in the context of post-apartheid industrial relations. Since a larger workforce attracts closer scrutiny by the Councils, small firms are reluctant to expand, relying on outsourcing to increase production. The very size of the firm is thus a pliable concept, positioned between formal and informal norms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-505
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Labour Review
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • collective bargaining
  • comment
  • industry
  • labour legislation
  • labour relations
  • manufacturing
  • small scale industry
  • south africa r

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