Anglo American Corporation and the South African state : a contextual analysis of annual reports 1917-1975

Hammond, Theresa and Cooper, Christine and van Staden, Chris (2017) Anglo American Corporation and the South African state : a contextual analysis of annual reports 1917-1975. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 30 (6). pp. 1399-1423. ISSN 0951-3574 (

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Purpose: This paper examines the complex and shifting relationship between the Anglo American Corporation (Anglo) and the South African State (“the State”) as reflected in Anglo’s annual reports. Design/methodology/approach: This paper builds on research on the role of annual reports in ideological conflict. To examine the ongoing relationship between Anglo and the State, we read all the annual reports published by Anglo American from 1917 to 1975, looking for instances in which the corporation appeared to be attempting to address, criticize, compliment, or implore the State. Findings: During the period under study, despite the apparent struggles between the South African State and Anglo American, the relationship between the two was primarily symbiotic. The symbolic confrontation engaged in by these two behemoths perpetuated the real, physical violence perpetrated on the oppressed workers. By appearing to be a liberal opponent of apartheid, Anglo was able to ensure continued investment in South Africa. Social implications: The examination of decades’ worth of annual reports provide an example of how these supposedly neutral instruments were used to contest and sustain power. Thereby, Anglo could continue to exploit workers, reap enormous profits, and maintain a fiction of opposition to the oppressive State. The State also benefited from its support of Anglo, which provided a plurality of tax revenue and economic expansion during the period. Originality/value: This paper provides insights into the ways the State and other institutions sustain each other in the pursuit of economic and political power in the face of visible and widely condemned injustices. Although they frequently contested each other’s primacy, both benefited while black South African miners suffered.


Hammond, Theresa, Cooper, Christine ORCID logoORCID: and van Staden, Chris;