Mark Anstey grew up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) where he worked briefly as a social worker. He moved to South Africa in 1977 working for the University of the Witwatersrand and the bipartisan Institute for Industrial Relations, before joining the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University) as Director of its Labour Relations Unit in 1987. He was part of a small group of academics and human rights lawyers that initiated independent mediation services in the country in the early 1980’s and remained an active mediator of labour conflicts at sectoral and plant levels through to 2019. Workplaces have a core relevance in transformational societies and he has a particular interest in relationship building interventions and organizational change processes. In the context of South Africa’s volatile political environment in the 1980’s and early 1990s he was drawn into community conflict work, serving within the National Peace Accord structures to mediate a range of political, community, and policing conflicts; and then the Independent Electoral Commission as Regional Director of Monitoring (East Cape) for the country’s historic 1994 democratic elections. He was an early consultant to the Minister of Safety and Security after 1994, involved in the redesign of labour relations in the police service. He has been involved in training people in negotiation, mediation, conflict management, and aspects of human resource management in over 30 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Philippines as well as in the USA.
He has published eight books and numerous professional and academic articles on aspects of negotiation and mediation, labour relations, and social work. He is an emeritus professor with Nelson Mandela University; a senior visiting fellow with Clingendael (The Netherlands Institute for International Relations); and a steering committee member of the Processes of International Negotiation Programme based at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). He was a professor with Michigan State University in Dubai (2008-11); and Executive Director of the Institute for Industrial Relations in Johannesburg (1982-86). While in South Africa he taught courses at the Universities of Witwatersrand, Cape Town, and Stellenbosch. He holds a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of the Witwatersrand, and a D Phil in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (though in comparative labour relations) from the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University).