Participatory communication for social change and stakeholder relationships : challenges faced by social development NPOs and their corporate donors in South Africa
Van Dyk, Louise Isabel
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In recent years the ideas of good governance and the responsibility of corporate South Africa to contribute to the society in which they operate have become an undeniable part of organisational conception. Indeed, South Africa is considered to be a leader in the field of corporate governance internationally. Forming part of governance practices is Corporate Social Investment (CSI) whereby corporate organisations contribute to causes and societal groupings in need of financial and other assistance. Among these societal groupings that receive support from CSI activities are non-profit organisations (NPOs) that rely on funding from their corporate donors for survival. Based on the exchange of funding and a shared attempt at social development, a relationship between the two parties emerges. From the perspective of the stakeholder theory, corporate organisations, through their CSI activities, and NPOs are stakeholders of each other and a positive relationship between them could strengthen their individual and collective goals. This study explored and described the relationship between corporate donors and recipient NPOs in order to understand the state of the relationship and to critically consider the way in which the relationship is defined, described and measured. First, the relationship was explored by means of partially structured interviews based on well-known relationship indicators where it appeared that the relationship is not only fraught with negative perceptions from both sides, but also where the relationship indicators used to explore the relationship were not entirely suited for the specific context of this relationship. The negative perceptions and inappropriate relationship indicators formed the basis of a theoretical inquiry of literature on CSI, stakeholder relationships and participatory development communication. Subsequently, the partially structured interviews and the literature review informed the design of two corresponding survey questionnaires that could test both findings quantitatively. The results of validity and reliability testing confirmed the qualitative finding that a contextualised measurement is suited for this relationship. A mix of existing and newly formulated items grouped in contextual elements and redefined relationship indicators was used to describe the relationship. A combined analysis of qualitative and quantitative results indicated that the relationship is not as negative as the qualitative research might have suggested (possibly a result of contextualised measurement); but that very specific relational challenges are present and it is suggested that these challenges need a realistic approach of which accurate description is a starting point. The research contributes twofold with the first contribution being a clearer understanding of the relationship between corporate donors and recipient NPOs and the second being a set of redefined and contextualised relationship indicators with which to define and measure this relationship.
- Humanities