Business and Development Centre

The Business and Development Centre seeks to provide much needed research and practical analysis on the role business plays in addressing global challenges such as inequality, sustainability and security informed by thinking from across business, economics, political science and development studies.

Technicians work assembling computers at the Omatek factory. The owner is Florence Seriki. Within only a few years her business has grown to a successful enterprise. Credit: S. Torfinn - Panos

Business is increasingly identified in global frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by national governments and donor agencies and at a more local level by communities and citizens as playing a key role in addressing development challenges. Yet understanding of the role business can play alongside government, donors and NGOs, and also the negative development consequences it can have, is limited by a lack of evidence and robust analysis.

Since its launch in March 2014, the Business and Development Centre has taken a problem-oriented approach to understanding the conditions required for effective business contributions in specific sectors including health, agriculture, nutrition, finance, energy and the circular economy.  The Centre builds on a well-established track record of IDS research on markets, value chains and business, as well as participatory methodologies and evaluation, both of which bring a unique perspective and approach to our work.  The Centre focuses on four key areas:

  1. Markets: Using systems theory to map and understand formal and informal markets, how they intersect and affect the lives of the poorest, and how they can be restructured to work better for development.
  2. Innovation: Understanding different forms of innovation in product, process and organisation, how they disrupt markets, their potential for development, and how they can be made more inclusive.
  3. Inclusion: Understanding the potential and limits of market-based approaches to reach the poorest and most marginalised, who face multiple barriers across different dimensions (economic, social, political) and who typically lack the skills, assets and resources required to benefit from markets.
  4. Political economy: Understanding how business and state actors, and multi-stakeholder partnerships, affect market governance and the way markets work, and the implications for development outcomes. 

Read the Business and Development Centre launch report (PDF).

Image: Technicians work assembling computers at the Omatek factory in Nigeria, owned by Florence Seriki. Within only a few years her business has grown to a successful enterprise. Credit: S. Torfinn - Panos

Photo of Amrita Saha More details

Photo of Ana Pueyo More details

Photo of Carlos Fortin More details

Photo of Elise Wach, Evaluation and Learning Advisor with the Impact and Learning Team More details

Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Photo of Hubert Schmitz from Green Transformations Cluster More details

Photo of Jing Gu More details

Photo of Jing Gu More details

Photo of Lizbeth Navas-Aleman More details

Photo of Mar Maestre Morales, Globalisation More details

More details

Photo of Sir Richard Jolly More details

IDS Research Fellow Seife Ayele More details

Photo of Spencer Henson, Globalisation Research Fellow More details

Photo of Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones - Economist More details

Stephen Spratt, IDS Research Fellow More details

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change is developing a framework to analyse alternative pathways that link different forms of technological innovation, and evaluate resulting structural change and inclusion outcomes in low-income countries. More details

Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa

This project is looking into the heart of the electricity supply crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Market Based Solutions for the Extreme Poor

Studies have shown that it is often wealthier people in a community who benefit from market approaches to combatting poverty – men more than women, non-disabled more than disabled. So how and to what extent can market-based solutions improve the lives of extremely poor people? More details

Changing Business-State Relations in Development

There is much we still need to learn about the structure and process of business and the state interactions with regards to specific and general development issues. This project therefore aims to assess the state of play in research on state-business relations in developing countries, and outline a research agenda which builds on this foundation towards better understanding of the role of state-business relations in shaping development outcomes, including but also beyond economic growth. More details

BRICS Economic Engagement Footprint Study

This project investigated the nature of economic relations between the BRICS and Africa, in order to quantify the development footprint, focusing on various elements such as trade, investment. finance, ODA and migration. The current phase aims to look at development finance and the role of BRICS development banks. More details

Business from the BRICS

The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of business from the BRICS countries in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Market Systems Approaches to Enabling Women's Economic Empowerment through Addressing Unpaid Carework

Market systems programmes are increasingly recognising the important role that women play in market activity and including women’s economic empowerment and gender equality objectives. However, unpaid care work is a significant and regularly overlooked factor which affects women’s economic, political and social activities. More details

Political Economy of Low Carbon Investment in China and India

This project investigates whether and how coalitions of public, private and civic actors influence low carbon investment. More details

Rent Management: the Heart of Green Industrial Policy

At the heart of green industrial policy is rent management: government creating and withdrawing opportunities for highly profitable investment. This project asks what the key factors are for rent management to succeed. More details

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Agriculture: Enabling Factors and Impact on the Rural Poor

This research will identify the key factors driving the effectivness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) at bringing sustained increases in income for smallholder farmers at scale and delivering positive development outcomes across rural communities. More details

Inclusive business in practice

Inclusive business has been recognised as an opportunity to deliver development impacts through innovative approaches to business. IDS has been working on case studies of what this actually means in practice with the Business Innovation Facility (BIF). More details

Success Factors for Lead Firms to Shape Inclusive Procurement

This consultancy examines best practices both operationally and in the literature surrounding business models from the view point of inclusivity of smallholder farmers More details

Who Drives Climate-Relevant Policies in the Rising Powers?

This project is concerned with the political economy analysis of climate change policies. The central question of the project is who drives/obstructs climate change policies in the rising powers, paying special attention to renewable energy policies. More details

View all Research Centre's publications

Use this search to display this centre's publications and filter by journal, theme, country and much more.

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This is the image for IDS Practice Paper 9, 'Measuring the Inclusivity of Inclusive Business'.

Measuring the Inclusivity of Inclusive Business

IDS Practice Paper 9 (2012)

‘Inclusive Business’ has enormous potential to contribute positively to development outcomes. Working through core business models, the ‘Inclusive Business’ approach requires minimal outside support and can often reach a scale unattainable by most direct development interventions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Lobbying in the Spotlight

Corporate Social Responsibility Review Winter 2006 (2006)

This article examines the effectiveness of firm corporate social responsibility efforts. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Can Business Help Governments Change the System?

This forms part of a collection of essays on the role of business in society. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Developing Value: The Business Case for Sustainability in Emerging Markets

This chapter is based on a sustainable business model and looks at evidence to support the business case for sustainability. More details

IDS publications on international development research

From Corporate Responsibility to Good Governance and Scalable Solutions

This chapter contributes to the most comprehensive discussion on CSR to date and offers conclusive comment on CSR now and in the future. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Corporate Social Responsibility: Reconciling Aspiration with Application

This unique collection of international papers integrates Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) theory, research and practice More details

IDS publications on international development research

Developing Value: The Business Case for Sustainability in Emerging Markets

Greener Management International 44 (2003)

This article forms part of a special issue providing an insight into the relationship between sustainability performance, business competitiveness and economic success, More details

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