Career Movements and Networks in Contractual Development Work

On Ethics, Identity and Everyday Practice in For-Profit Aid

More than half of today’s official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries is spent on the procurement of goods and services from external providers, a majority of which are for-profit firms in donor countries (Eurodad 2011). Many of the actors engaged in work commonly associated with nonprofits, such as poverty alleviation, public health and education, are today for-profit corporations. This research project explores the nature and role of for-profit development contractors, how they compare to non-profit aid, and what lies behind their growing influence in international development cooperation. Focus is on the networks and career movements that cut across non- and for-profit realms of aid. The purpose is to generate comparative knowledge of the differences and similarities between non- and for-profit aid in contractual relations, and to unravel the ways in which these two realms are intertwined. It is also to highlight the hitherto unexplored social dimensions of development contracting, through an ethnographic inquiry into everyday practices, processes and individual professionals. The study focuses on for-profit contracting in and across Sweden and Tanzania, two countries with a long history of development cooperation.