Original Research

The influence of internationalisation of labour on the performance of small-scale rural-based agricultural firms: A South African perspective

Patient Rambe
Acta Commercii | Vol 18, No 1 | a527 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v18i1.527 | © 2018 Patient Rambe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 July 2017 | Published: 21 June 2018

About the author(s)

Patient Rambe, Department of Business Support Studies, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa


Orientation: The main objective of this study is to determine the extent to which small-scale, rural-based agricultural firms in South Africa use foreign labour.

Research purpose: South African business owners or managers’ perceived preference for labour from foreign nationals has heightened South African nationals’ concerns that these owners or managers are prejudicing local citizens under the guise of reducing overhead costs.

Motivation for the study: There is a scarcity of studies on the influence of free movement of foreign labour on the performance of small-scale, rural-based agricultural firms in South Africa.

Research design, approach and method: A cross-sectional survey research was conducted among 151 small-scale agricultural businesses’ (SSABs) owners or managers in Vryburg-Pokwani in North West and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. Furthermore, post hoc comparisons (Bonferroni) were conducted to establish the long-term performance expectations based on these firms’ utilisation of foreign labour.

Main findings: The results showed that the majority (70.9%) of SSABs did not employ foreign labour. Moreover, despite the statistically significant differences in the performance of SSABs based on their usage of foreign labour, SSABs’ orientation towards internationalisation of labour increased with increased deployment of foreign labour.

Practical and managerial implications: The study recommended the possibility of deploying highly skilled, value-adding and value-creating foreign labour, while rationalising the recruitment of semi-skilled and unskilled local labour.

Contribution or value addition: The results are of significance to SSABs that need to consider the economic benefits of recruiting foreign labour even if that may increase their overhead costs.


small scale agricultural firms; foreign labour; irregular migrants; firm performance; globalisation


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