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Dissertation: Co-creation between NGOs and companies is increasing

Non-governmental organizations have a lot to give to companies entering low-income markets. However, co-creation is bounded by unequal power-relations and different goals, shows the doctoral research of Tytti Nahi.
Tytti Nahi's two-and-half-year empirical study includes seven company–NGO partnerships in India and Sri Lanka.

The world is wealthier than ever, but every ninth person is still undernourished. Clearly, new approaches and interaction between business, civil society and public actors are needed to fight poverty and inequality.

The co-creation of inclusive business is one of the novel approaches that arouses great hopes among development actors and businesses alike. The idea is that companies, poor communities, NGOs and other partners can co-create profitable and poverty-reducing business models that none of the actors could imagine or realize on their own. M.Sc. Tytti Nahi will defend her doctoral research on the co-creation of inclusive business on 29 June at Aalto University School of Business.

‘My doctoral research shows that expectations towards co-creation as a means of marrying profit-making and poverty reduction are excessive. Co-creation is hindered by unequal power relations, sectoral and cultural differences and paradoxical role expectations, as well as limited expertise and trust,’ Nahi says.

Nahi’s conclusions are based on a two-and-half-year empirical study of seven company–NGO partnerships that sought to forge inclusive business in Indian or Sri Lankan slums and villages.

‘When one partner pays for the other’s services, when one is mainly interested in new markets and the other in direct benefits for the poorest people and when one is an engineer and the other an anthropologist, misunderstandings are common. Getting past them would take very long-term commitment,’ Nahi says.

Knowledge sharing requires resources

’NGOs can often bring valuable expertise, community contacts, networks and legitimacy to business projects in low-income contexts, supporting both commercial and societal objectives’, Nahi says.

‘Yet it takes hard work to convey these resources. Indeed, looser collaboration and critical sparring will remain more important for many NGOs and companies in the future,’ Nahi says.

According to Nahi, public funding for inclusive business activities appears sufficient. Funding windows should, however, be reformed so that NGOs become equally relevant applicants as companies.

Tytti Nahi defends her doctoral dissertation entitled 'Company–NGO interaction for poverty reduction: Co-creation of inclusive business' at the School of Business on Friday 29 June 2018.

Further information
Tytti Nahi
[email protected]
+358 40 772 4247

Doctoral Dissertation (aaltodoc.aalto.fi)

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