This paper looks at the conceptual framework of social dialogue, investment in social capital and some international definitions of social dialogue as background to developments in this sphere in South Africa. Social dialogue is viewed as a mechanism for problem-solving and reducing transaction costs. The paper considers the ramifications of the 1979 Wiehahn Report on labour relations, as well as the nature of social dialogue in the apartheid era and its workplace origins. Institutionally, the stepping stones to the emergence of the NEF and Nedlac are discussed, together with some of the issues involved in, and formal outcomes of, Nedlac over the past eleven years in public policy choices. It closes with an evaluation of institutionalised social dialogue in South Africa and its future.