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In an IIM Bangalore Business & Development roundtable Zameen co-founder Gijs spoke about systems thinking and social enterprise.

Businesses now contribute to development through avenues other than the gener-ation of employment and economic growth, such as corporate social responsibility initiatives,corporate accountability movements and alternative business models, using several partner-ship formats to deliver. A panel with representatives from leading corporations, NGOs, anda public sector bank discussed the changing nature of corporate power, responsibility andownership, the greater congruence between the goals of business and society, and how their organisations were responding to the changes and opportunities.

With the transition over the past few decades from state-led development to market-led development models, theexpectations of business contributions to developmenthave changed significantly. While there is no clear consensus on what the development roles and responsibil-ities of business are (or what development entails), it is generally acknowledged that business has to play a moreprominent role and make significant contributions. Thepurpose of this proposed round table discussion, as indi-cated below, is to focus on how the key points of contentionin this discussion are visible at the firm level within the corebusiness strategies of firms. Before formulating this prop-osition, however, it is important to lay out the historicaland conceptual background to this debate.

Business and development in a globalised economy

With the acceleration of the processes of economic global-isation in the 1980s, the portrayal of the role of the state andbusiness in development began to change significantly.Increasingly states began to be viewed as the problem rather than the solution, a perception that was given somecredence by fiscal and development crises in the South. Inthis context business, conversely, came to be portrayed asthe key component of the solution to the problems createdby state failure. The primary role for business in contributingto development was understood, initially at least, as thegeneration of growth and employment through the pursuit ofprofits (with the implicit understanding of developmentbeing economic growth) (Bhagwati, 1982; Krueger, 1990).

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