From Philanthropy to Strategy? A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Private Sector's Influence on the Public Sector's Understanding of Social Responsibility

Katharina Granzow Jørgensen & Sidsel Hougaard Pedersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

There has in 2017 been a strategic change in the Danish international development policy, so the focus, to a higher degree than before, is to create a win-win situation, where both Denmark and the development countries benefit. This strategic change also involves looking at the Danish development policy as a Danish investment that can result in trade and economic gain for Denmark, as opposed to looking at it purely as international aid. The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the private sector’s understanding of social responsibility can be seen to have influenced the public sector in its understanding of social responsibility. To investigate this, we are looking specifically at Denmark’s new development strategy as well as generally at the consequences this kind of influence from the private sector on the public sector can have on society’s understanding of social responsibility. The theoretical framework of this thesis is conducted from the work of Norman Fairclough (1992, 2003, 2008, 2015), as we are actively using his theory and method; the critical discourse analysis, in order to analyse based on discourse and social context. We are analysing four cases, which we define as social responsibility reports, from DANIDA and Carlsberg Group, where DANIDA will be representing the public sector and Carlsberg Group will be representing the private sector throughout the analysis. The social responsibility reports are analysed based on the critical discourse analysis, which includes three analyses: a textual analysis, a discourse analysis and an analysis on the social context. For the latter analyses, we are using institutional theory with regard to Kjær (2006) and DiMaggio, P. & Powell (1991) to analyse DANIDAs social context. After the analyses, a discussion follows, where we will discuss how the private sector’s influence on the public sector can have consequences for society’s understanding of social responsibility. Our thesis shows that it is a possibility that the change in the Danish development strategy is due to influence from the private sector’s understanding of social responsibility, because the strategy has changed to be more focused on economic gain through social responsibility, and that is a trait seen in the public sector. Furthermore, we found that the private sector has played a part in the making of the UN Sustainability Goals, which DANIDAs new strategy is largely based upon. From this, and other findings, we concluded that the two sectors are starting to look more alike in their understanding of- and discourse about social responsibility; where it is defined largely from a global and commercial/profit-oriented point of view. Furthermore, the thesis concludes that this can also have consequences for society in general as it can result in a common sense understanding, and thereby social acceptance, of what constitutes social responsibility based on a global and commercial/profit-oriented discourse, which can have further implications in society. We are aware that we will not be able to source any changes in Denmark’s development strategy directly to the private sector, as there can be many unexplored reasons for changes. However, we will comment on connections we see, and the thesis’ conclusion will be derive from such connections.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2019
Number of pages113
SupervisorsAnne Vestergaard