Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: Shaping Identities in Private-led Solar Technology Dissemination
UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets the agenda for global development in the near future and aims to end poverty through the involvement of the private sector in global development issues and the promotion of entrepreneurial practices and environmentally sound technologies. Tanzania is a country where the government encourages private-led distribution of public services to battle problems related to poverty. Multinational corporations are involved in the country's energy sector where some offer solar home systems to low-income customers and distribute them through locally trained and employed solar technicians. The purpose of this thesis was to contribute with better understanding of local solar technicians as social actors and how their identities are shaped by contemporary global development discourses. This was achieved through a text study and interviews with local solar technicians trained and employed by a Berlin-based company in Arusha, Tanzania. The research problem was addressed through a discourse analysis encompassing theories of materiality. Subject positions offered to the local solar technicians were identified and analyzed against the respondents articulations to investigate how corporate social entrepreneurship discourse plays out in the way local solar technicians understand themselves. This study has found that local solar technicians are offered to identify themselves as community members and employees, subject positions that bring both limitations and possibilities for them as individuals. As employees, the local solar technicians are constructed as independent social entrepreneurs that on behalf of their employer are expected to influence and educate their communities. The articulations of the respondents show that they all relate differently to corporate social entrepreneurship discourse and solar technology and let it play different roles in their lives. This study draws the conclusions that the constitution of local solar technicians as a group of social actors can be problematic for them as individuals and can lead to unpredictable social outcomes, since it does not reflect their own subjective understanding of themselves. The role of local solar technicians as social actors promoting specific world views and lifestyles further leads to that whole communities understand themselves through the words and believes of a few. The structures of representations and articulations of corporate social entrepreneurship discourse will thus have long term consequences in society and effect the lives of many.