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Roll, Kate, Dolan, Catherine and Rajak, Dinah (2021) 'Remote (dis)engagement: Shifting Corporate Risk to the 'Bottom of the Pyramid'.' Development and Change, 52 (4). pp. 878-901.

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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, who view marginal and underserved 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 paper examines how firms manage institutional voids and the consequences of these approaches for workers through a case study of Project Insansa, a BoP route to market (RTM) programme designed by the global food manufacturer Food Co., in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, located in Nairobi. When entering Kibera, Food Co. did not seek to bridge institutional voids or design strategies to understand the dynamics of informal markets in greater detail. Instead, the company pursued a different approach: outsourcing the management of risk and knowledge of these areas to others, specifically to existing organisations, social networks, and individuals within these spaces, a strategy we term ‘remote (dis)engagement.’ The paper describes the logics and outcome of this approach, concluding that Project Insansa’s business model depends on ‘gig practices’ of flexibility, irregular work and insecurity to realise the much-heralded ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’ (Prahalad 2005).

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: labour, risk, bottom of the pyramid, corporations
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISSN: 0012155X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 24 May 2021 16:50
Funders: Other

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