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One foot in the shanty shack, one foot in the boardroom: asdkajskdhasjdkj NGOs and corporate social investment in South Africa Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth.

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Presentation on theme: "One foot in the shanty shack, one foot in the boardroom: asdkajskdhasjdkj NGOs and corporate social investment in South Africa Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth."— Presentation transcript:

1 One foot in the shanty shack, one foot in the boardroom: asdkajskdhasjdkj NGOs and corporate social investment in South Africa Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen

2 Introduction In South Africa, corporate sector funding accounts for about a quarter of all civil society assistance Relationships with the corporate sector are becoming increasingly vital for NGOs Alignment of previously diverse development actors, each with their own roles and functions, in terms of types of expertise, modes of operation, auditing techniques and vocabularies Partnerships as ‘technologies of government’ in the development domain South Africa interesting case study: private sector forced to adopt socially responsible policies and practices such as BEE (Black Economic Empowerment – affirmative action)

3 Overview Background on Corporate Social Responsibility and CSI The South African case Impact of CSI practices on the NGO in this study – what type of NGO is preferred? The partnership discourse - partnerships as mechanisms of inclusion in the development domain

4 Corporate Social Responsibility CSR umbrella term for a variety of theories and practices which recognise that companies have a responsibility for their impact on society and the natural environment (Blowfield and Frynas, 2005) ‘triple bottom line’: profits, people, planet Focus in this study on corporate social investment as one part of CSR: social or community grant giving by corporations Theoretically employing (neo-Foucauldian) governmentality approach to understanding CSI corporations and NGOs as amongst a multiplicity of development actors that apply forms of knowledge to shape the conduct of others and themselves making individuals, communities or organisations responsible for their own change, becoming more efficient.

5 The South African case Corporate social investment & Apartheid Stimulated by repression and social unrest International sanctions movement (e.g. Sullivan Principles) Post Apartheid Corporate accountability: the King reports & the Socially Responsible Investment Index at the Jo’burg Stock Exchange Adoption of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment legislation) Complex linkages of BEE with CSI Poverty and inequality in South Africa one of the most unequal societies in the world high rate of profit for South African corporations

6 Preferred NGOs NGOs as interpreter of ‘the grassroots’ to corporations ‘We can travel, we can take the language, we can make that cross-over into the board room easily and now we are putting our foot into the shanty town shack and the other foot in the boardroom and kind of creating a bridge in that way. That you can talk the boardroom speak and then are learning more and more about meaningful development speak, too’ (Interview with NGO director, Johannesburg) Preference for NGOs that have existing good relationships with Government Urban focus Nature of NGO work and outputs: predominantly short-term gains, quantifiable outputs, welfare-oriented ‘Corporates think that CSI is somehow about doing some relief work. It’s about contributing to a soup kitchen. That seems to be their simplistic understanding of it. And when an organisation like us in the democracy and government sector says: “but we want to create spaces for communities to engage in policy processes”, they do not see value in that’ (Interview with NGO director, Durban)

7 ‘We have a huge push by Virgin to do project visits and particularly the one project close to Gauteng that is accessible to them from a logistical point of view, that they like and know […] And we are going “hang on, these guys are just coming into our training programme, so no, you can’t do a visit”. And they are going, “fuck you basically, we are doing visits because we have paid for this thing”. That’s where the partnerships are starting to become complicated’

8 Preferred NGOs NGOs as interpreter of ‘the grassroots’ to corporations ‘We can travel, we can take the language, we can make that cross-over into the board room easily and now we are putting our foot into the shanty town shack and the other foot in the boardroom and kind of creating a bridge in that way. That you can talk the boardroom speak and then are learning more and more about meaningful development speak, too’ (Interview with NGO director, Johannesburg) Preference for NGOs that have existing good relationships with Government Urban focus Nature of NGO work and outputs: predominantly short-term gains, quantifiable outputs, welfare-oriented ‘Corporates think that CSI is somehow about doing some relief work. It’s about contributing to a soup kitchen. That seems to be their simplistic understanding of it. And when an organisation like us in the democracy and government sector says: “but we want to create spaces for communities to engage in policy processes”, they do not see value in that’ (Interview with NGO director, Durban)

9 Partnership discourse and practices normative v instrumental values of partnerships participation, empowerment / effectiveness, efficiency partnerships for development to overcome the power inequalities that have characterised North-South or donor-recipient relationships in development Corporations’ approach to their NGO partners often paternalistic ‘This programme we run it in partnership with an NGO called […]. And so they do the whole implementation for us, and what is nice is that when we met them in the beginning they were only skilled on areas like HIV/Aids, gender-based violence, but obviously we upskilled them, we trained them, to be the exact partner that we want. And so it was a really good partnership. Because we are equal partners in the programme, and they have had to learn a lot and be taught a lot to be able to execute at the [company’s] level. […] And you have to capacitate them to come to that level where we deliver. And I think we have done it very well with this NGO’ (Interview with CSI practioner, Johannesburg) Ties in with critical development literature Partnerships the ‘trojan horses of development’ (Miraftab 2004), ‘old wine in re-labelled civic bottles’ (Fowler 1998). Also see Cooke & Kothari (2001)

10 Partnerships (continued) Alignment of types of expertise, modes of operation, auditing techniques and vocabularies – governing development through inclusion NGO agency: partnerships can be used strategically and can (sometimes) increase legitimacy and leverage CSI activity connects different spatialities; intermeshing of sovereignties and responsibilities

11 One foot in the shanty shack, one foot in the boardroom: asdkajskdhasjdkj NGOs and corporate social investment in South Africa Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth Department of Sociology, University of Aberdeen


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