Saving the World by Doing Business? A Background Paper on the Role of the Private Sector in Danish Aid

Mette Fog Olwig, Julie Andersen Schou

Research output: Working paperResearch

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In recent years publicly funded development and humanitarian aid is being reduced, while the private sector is increasingly being considered a key development actor. This working paper provides an overview of the institutional framework that currently influences these processes in Denmark. We find that in Denmark, this new approach to aid has taken place in the context of a significant change in the Danish national narrative concerning engagement in aid. Whereas the narrative formerly emphasized the importance of selfless global solidarity it has now opened up for approaches that are overtly strategic and self-interested in relation to safety, values, and business interests. While business has always been part of development, the change in narrative has further legitimized combining profit and development. We show how the Danish Government has encouraged civil society to engage in joint ventures with the business sector and describe a spectrum of humanitarian and development initiatives with private business. Together these trends and initiatives have resulted in a Danish institutional framework that, we find, strongly supports and promotes the involvement of business in the development sector. This will have important implications for the scope and agenda of development, as well as for standards for accountability and measurement of results, that need to be further studied.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCentre for Business and Development Studies
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9788799972012
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesCBDS Working Paper


  • Development policy
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Private sector
  • Partnerships
  • SDGs
  • Danida
  • Denmark

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