Big Data Partnerships for Sustainable Development: The Role of Multinational IT Corporations: A Case Study of SAP’s Engagement in the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

Mirjam Sophie Chinnow & Jonas Boeckmann

Student thesis: Master thesis


The emergence of big data has long exerted its influence in the business sector. Inter-organizational information sharing (IOIS) has become an increasing trend. As a result, an increasing body of research literature exists on IOIS in private sector alliances and in public-private partnerships. Yet, a new trend has not been in the spotlight of research so far: the emergence of complex multi-stakeholder networks bringing together actors from all three sectors (social, public, private) to leverage IT and data sharing for sustainable development. This study takes a first step in exploring these multi-stakeholder networks through the lens of collective action theory, by focusing on the role of multinational IT corporations within these networks and their reasons for participation. Through a case study analysis, it is revealed that these corporations are strategic members of high relevance, because they bring in unique resources complementary to those of other members and have the potential to catalyze collective action. Yet, their diverging interests pose a challenge for the governance of the collective action. Within the network, the role of multinational IT corporations is still evolving and continues to be formed externally and internally through an interplay of the collective action organizers, the other actors within the collective action, the companies themselves and the involved individual employees. The individual employees are primarily motivated by philanthropic, normative reasons while on a company level these new networks are understood as an opportunity to create shared business and social value.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages142
SupervisorsStefan Henningsson