Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: Shaping Identities in Private-led Solar Technology Dissemination

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets the agenda for global development in the nearfuture and aims to end poverty through the involvement of the private sector in global developmentissues and the promotion of entrepreneurial practices and environmentally sound technologies.Tanzania is a country where the government encourages private-led distribution of public servicesto battle problems related to poverty. Multinational corporations are involved in the country'senergy sector where some offer solar home systems to low-income customers and distribute themthrough locally trained and employed solar technicians.The purpose of this thesis was to contribute with better understanding of local solar technicians associal actors and how their identities are shaped by contemporary global development discourses.This was achieved through a text study and interviews with local solar technicians trained andemployed by a Berlin-based company in Arusha, Tanzania. The research problem was addressedthrough a discourse analysis encompassing theories of materiality. Subject positions offered to thelocal solar technicians were identified and analyzed against the respondents articulations toinvestigate how corporate social entrepreneurship discourse plays out in the way local solartechnicians understand themselves.This study has found that local solar technicians are offered to identify themselves as communitymembers and employees, subject positions that bring both limitations and possibilities for them asindividuals. As employees, the local solar technicians are constructed as independent socialentrepreneurs that on behalf of their employer are expected to influence and educate theircommunities. The articulations of the respondents show that they all relate differently to corporatesocial entrepreneurship discourse and solar technology and let it play different roles in their lives.This study draws the conclusions that the constitution of local solar technicians as a group of socialactors can be problematic for them as individuals and can lead to unpredictable social outcomes,since it does not reflect their own subjective understanding of themselves. The role of local solartechnicians as social actors promoting specific world views and lifestyles further leads to that wholecommunities understand themselves through the words and believes of a few. The structures ofrepresentations and articulations of corporate social entrepreneurship discourse will thus have longterm consequences in society and effect the lives of many.

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