Corporate philanthropy in New Zealand : exploring the corporate philanthropic relationship : a dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Management, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, January 2012
The claim of this research is that, in New Zealand, the corporate philanthropic relationship can be characterised as a ‘managed mutual dependency’. This study seeks to address the lack of corporate philanthropy research in New Zealand and to contribute to a body of international studies of corporate philanthropy that is predominantly positivist, giver-centric in orientation, and reflective of an apparent research preference for business-related outcomes. This research adopts an interpretive-qualitative approach and theorises corporate philanthropy as a ‘relationship’ of givers and receivers, thus drawing attention to the importance of both parties, and to the ‘gift’ exchange.
Social constructionist theory building was employed to determine the meanings New Zealand managers give to corporate philanthropic relationships. A sample of people who make allocation decisions regarding philanthropic contributions (giving-managers) and people who are primarily responsible for accepting those contributions (receiving-managers) were interviewed and narrative analysis was employed to interpret the interviews.
It was found that there are noticeable differences between the ‘egotistical’ narratives of giving-managers and the ‘laudatory’ narratives of receiving-managers. By bringing these narratives together for the first time in a New Zealand based study, the proposed theoretical basis for the corporate philanthropic relationship was examined. It was found that, although receiving organisations benefit from it, corporate philanthropy is a corporate driven vehicle for self-expression.