DP11 What do we know about the private sector’s contribution to development?

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 11

By Margaret Callan

January 2012

Business is increasingly seen by international aid agencies as a partner in development. Recommendation 21 of the recent Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness for the Australian Government reflects this: ‘The power of business should be harnessed and business innovation should be encouraged, including through an annual consultative forum.’ The Review also suggested that the aid program consider ‘establishing a mechanism to assist businesses seeking corporate social responsibility and/or inclusive business opportunities in developing countries’. This paper considers what information the private sector currently provides on its development contributions. The key finding is unsurprising: private sector reporting is oriented to serve the needs of business, not that of the development community. The paper suggests ways in which corporate reporting could be strengthened to better reflect the private sector’s role in development. The framework proposed here will be tested in a case study in Papua New Guinea, an outline of which is provided at the conclusion of this paper.

Callan, M. 2012, ‘What do we know about the private sector’s contribution to development?’, Discussion Paper No. 11, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Karen Downing

Karen Downing is Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.