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11.02 Civil Society Collaboration with Business

 

Civil Society Collaboration with Business: bringing empowerment back in Darcy Hashman

Strategic partnership between civil society organisations (CSOs) and businesses are widely promoted as important new strategies to encourage corporate citizenship in the global South. This study tested these claims by examining 10 cases of collaboration between CSOs and businesses in Brazil, India, and South Africa. Findings suggest a sobering view of the benefits that civil society organisations and their constituencies can expect from collaboration. Development impacts may be more likely in sectors clearly linked to business interests, such as education and employment generation. Goals of organisation capacity building are more likely to be satisfied than those of citizen empowerment. CSOs and businesses can dominate collaborative decision making, with negative results for sustainability. The paper offers a number of propositions to guide further research and inform collaborative practice. Empowered civil society collaboration with business is suggested as a more appropriate model than strategic partnership for CSOs pursuing sustainable development.