Corporations have a major impact on the lives of people in developing countries. Not only do they determine the shape of the international economy, but also many private companies now provide essential social services that were previously the responsibility of government. The growth of corporate power has generated a backlash as companies are held to account for the social and environmental impacts of their business. The resulting array of new initiatives coming under the term 'corporate social responsibility' has many implications for development. There are heated debates as to whether these initiatives should remain voluntary, or form part of tighter international regulation of business. Corporations clearly have the potential to contribute to sustainable economic growth in developing countries. However, their business can also undermine people's livelihoods. Contributors to this volume examine the impact of the private sector on development, whether through core business practices, corporate responsibility endeavors, or philanthropic activities. Bringing together both analytical chapters and case studies ranging from El Salvador, to Kenya, to Timor-Leste, this book focuses on how the private sector can do less harm, and even do considerable good by fostering equitable development.
Deborah Eade was Editor-in-Chief of Development in Practice from 1991 to 2010, prior to which she worked for 10 years in Latin America. She is now an independent writer on development and humanitarian issues, based near Geneva.