Engaging the private sector in public-private partnerships in commodity value chains through corporate communication

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: Over the past decades the traditional development agenda of a donor-beneficiary model has been replaced by one builton partnerships with mutual benefits. In recent years the paradigms of ‘aid effectiveness’ and ‘developmenteffectiveness’, characterized by a set of new and emerging actors that play an important role in development and arenewed focus on economic growth, have emerged. One of the actors that is becoming more important is the privatesector, as they increasingly have the opportunity to take on a new profound role as development driver. While there hasbeen a trend of decreasing government spending for development aid, the private sector has considerable financial assetsat their disposal. However, the financial contribution of the private sector in sectors related to the SustainableDevelopment Goals remains low. Public-private partnerships are seen as a way that can attract the private sector indoing investments in sustainable development. Especially for global agri-food chains, partnerships have the ambitionto bring about sustainable change. In order to attract the private sector in such collaborations, an understanding of theirinformation needs regarding public-private partnerships and sustainability is necessary. The focus of this research wasto explain those information needs. As part of a case study research, interviews with the private sector were conducted.To gain additional insights, web testing tasks were conducted with the same interviewees. It is found that p the two mainreasons to join in a partnership for the private partners of this case study are because it is a platform for collaborationand knowledge exchange. Understanding these motivations helps to articulate a message that is seen as valuable. Next,with regard to sustainability interests, these mainly fall under the three pillars of sustainability – economic,environmental, social – but it was also found that the companies can use information on traceability and connectingtheir work to the Sustainable Development Goals as ways to communicate about their sustainability efforts. Relatingthis to the findings on information needs and how to communicate about such topics, the main findings suggest that theinformation should be concrete, result-oriented and proof of impact. In general, the information needs of the privatesector all to less or more extent have to do with continuation of the business, while also interest is shown for makingsustainability a viable business case and being a thought leader on sustainability topics. These findings are parallel tothe dominant paradigms of development effectiveness and aid effectiveness that continue to shape the agenda ondevelopment collaboration.

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