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Remote (Dis)engagement: Shifting Corporate Risk to the 'Bottom of the Pyramid'

Roll, K; Dolan, C; Rajak, D; (2021) Remote (Dis)engagement: Shifting Corporate Risk to the 'Bottom of the Pyramid'. Development and Change 10.1111/dech.12669. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Untapped markets are often deemed institutional voids, terra incognita ripe with economic possibility. The conversion of institutional voids into viable markets has become the ambition of many corporations today, which view marginal and under-served areas such as urban slums as opportunities to achieve the dual aims of market growth and poverty reduction, particularly through ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BoP) programmes. This article examines how firms manage institutional voids and the consequences of these approaches for workers through a case study of a BoP ‘route to market’ programme designed by a global food manufacturer in Kibera, Africa's largest slum, located in Nairobi. Instead of engaging with Kibera by upgrading informal markets or generating formal employment, the corporation focused on harnessing existing informal systems through composite arrangements of NGOs, social networks and informal enterprises, a strategy the authors term ‘remote (dis)engagement’. The article describes the logics and outcome of this strategy of formal engagement with informal markets, concluding that the BoP business model depends on ‘gig practices’ of flexibility, irregular work and insecurity to realize the much-heralded ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’.

Type: Article
Title: Remote (Dis)engagement: Shifting Corporate Risk to the 'Bottom of the Pyramid'
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/dech.12669
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12669
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Development and Change published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Institute of Social Studies This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Inst for Innovation and Public Purpose
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10131638
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