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Back | Programme Area: Markets, Business and Regulation (2000 - 2009)

Conference News: Business, Social Policy and Corporate Political Influence in Developing Countries

Expectations about the role of the private sector in development have changed considerably in recent decades. Transnational corporations (TNCs) in particular are being urged to play a more proactive role in social development. Within the United Nations system, and the wider international development community, the focus in this field is generally on voluntary initiatives related to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and public-private partnerships (PPPs). Far less attention has been paid to the question of whether organized business interests support or undermine "transformative social policy". What are the social policy preferences of firms and business associations? Are they necessarily at odds with progressive aspects of social policy? How do governments and regulatory institutions respond and adapt to the increasing structural and instrumental power of business? In a context where CSR and PPPs are often in a technocratic way, or are packaged in a discourse that emphasizes "win-win" situations and participatory governance, it is important to consider issues of power and the roles of contestation and collective action in processes of institutional reform.

To examine these questions, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) launched a Call for Papers for a conference on Business, Social Policy and Corporate Political Influence in Developing Countries, under the Institute's research programme on Markets, Business and Regulation. The event was held on 12-13 November 2007. Two main objectives of this conference were (i) to bring key findings and debates from academia to the attention of the United Nations agencies, governments, business and civil society organizations, and the international development research community; and (ii) to draw on insights from different disciplines to better understand the role of business in development and move toward more integrated, coherent policy approaches.
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  • Pub. Date: 1 Oct 2008
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 1020-8054
    From: UNRISD