Responsibility-led development: systematic literature review and post-structural analysis.
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Purpose: The research presented in this report examines responsibility-led development as the conceptual assemblage of private sector responsibility theories and contemporary development paradigms. It aims to contribute to an emerging field of literature exploring the relationship between responsible practices in the private sector and international development. More specifically, the research offers a theoretical contribution in the form of a systematic literature review and theoretical reflection from a post-structural point of view. Methodology: The research is divided into two successive parts. In the first part, a database of 126 highly relevant academic articles is compiled and analysed. The composition and contents of the literature is outlined in both quantitative terms, through the classification of literature according to set of 12 parameters, and in qualitative terms, through an in depth examination of recurring issues. In the second part, a theoretical reflection is carried out taking post-structuralism as a theoretical angle of analysis and building on the findings of the systematic literature review. Particular attention is paid to the knowledge framework, to the power relations and to dominant discourses that influence the formation and transformation of subjectivities. Findings: Findings show that the literature field is recent, under theoretical consolidation and in need of empirical evidence. It is underlined that responsibility-led development is complex and multi-faceted and cannot be divorced from paradigmatic shifts that occurred in the late 20th century. It is suggested that the knowledge framework is coloured by developed country scholarship and institutional arrangements resulting in biases that obscure the greater diversity and pluralism that are inherently built into both private sector responsibility theories and contemporary development paradigms. Colouring and biases in the knowledge framework further affect the relations of power between the subject (responsibility) and object (development) or responsibility-led development. It is thought that development-centred approaches are necessary to overcome the discursive limitations of business-centred approaches and promote the emergence and diversification of contextualised alternatives to mainstream, universalised discourses. Constitutive weaknesses are further identified that weaken the role of responsibility as a bridge between the private sector and development processes and outcomes. It is thought that irreconcilable discrepancies between the meanings of development understood by the private sector and outlined as legitimate societal aspirations do not warrant the private sector’s central role in development processes, but rather place it as a partner in development cooperation to be harnessed under contextually appropriate institutional arrangements guided by civil society and governance actors. Originality: The originality of the research lies in both its core components and in their combination. The systematic literature review allows for a nascent literature field to be mapped and understood accounting for both the breadth of relevant contributions and the high specificity of the conceptual assemblage. It provides both a quantitative and qualitative snapshot of responsibility-led development and thereby supports a rigorous theoretical discussion. Post-structuralism further offers interesting theoretical and methodological grounds for the critical discussion. Together, these components allow for a robust and methodologically rigorous theoretical contribution.