Business Investment in Education in Emerging Markets since the 1960s

Valeria Giacomin*, Geoffrey Jones, Erica H. Salvaj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article examines non-profit investments by business in education in emerging markets between the 1960s and the present day. Using a sample of 110 interviews with business leaders from a recently developed oral history database, the study shows that more than three-quarters of such leaders invested in education as a non-profit activity. The article explores three different types of motivations behind such high levels of engagement with education: values driven, context focussed, and firm focussed. The article identifies significant regional variations in terms of investment execution, structure, and impact. In South and Southeast Asia, there was a preference for long-term investment in primary and secondary education. In Africa and Latin America, some initiatives sometimes had a shorter-term connotation, but with high-profile projects in partnerships with international organisations and foreign universities. In Turkey, there was heavy focus on training and the creation of universities. The article concludes by examining the impact of this investment, comparing Chile and India especially. It discusses issues such as the paucity of financial data and the challenges of comparing different types of educational spending, which make robust conclusions hard, but does suggest that although such spending did not resolve major educational roadblocks across the emerging world, it represented a positive overall social gain.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1113-1143
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 21 Oct 2019


  • Business history
  • Economic history
  • Oral history
  • Education
  • Emerging markets
  • Reputation
  • Philanthropy
  • CSR

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