Benedikte Bull, Jason Miklian | Business and Politics
Over the last decades, encouragement of business engagement with environmental and socio-economic development has gained prominence due to the perceived weakening of states and multilateral institutions against the forces of global capitalism. Different ways of encouraging changes in business behavior have been promoted, such as the formation of public/private partnerships, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and other forms of non-binding organizational arrangements. However, there is no real consensus on the desired role of business in development, what the best policies for global development are, or what “development” itself is and should be defined as. Indeed, precisely as a formal consensus has been reached on the broad agenda of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a narrower agenda focusing on industrialization, modernization, and economic growth is promoted by new actors, many originating in the Global South. This special issue asks how the emergence of new actors and the adaptation by global institutions affect the ways in which business engages with development. This introductory article positions the issue’s contributions into three discussions: exploring issues of global coherence and division on key debates; understanding how new actors are reshaping the public-private divide; and assessing how disconnects within discourse on business and development can amplify negative societal consequences in fragile settings of weak governance.