PhD defence at MSC: Sofie Elbæk Henriksen gains her PhD degree

Sofie Elbæk Henriksen

On 31 January, PhD Fellow Sofie Elbæk Henriksen successfully defended her PhD dissertation with the title ‘Big Tech to the Rescue? An Ethnographic Study of Corporate Humanitarianism in the Refugee Crisis’.


Sofie Henriksen’s PhD project explored the growing role of business in humanitarianism, focusing particularly on the humanitarian engagements of Big Tech companies in refugee crises. Through her research, Sofie aimed to get a deeper understanding of what Big Tech companies do in refugee crises and how they become legitimized as humanitarian actors through these practices.


To study this, Sofie did ethnographic fieldwork among tech workers in Silicon Valley, humanitarian workers in the International Rescue Committee, and volunteer hackers attempting to “hack” the refugee crisis with digital technology. Sofie’s thesis revealed several interesting findings about the practices and power relations of Big Tech’s humanitarian involvement. For example, the thesis showed that cross-sector partnerships for refugees often rely on an ideal of “sweet spots” between humanitarian and business interests, but in reality, the partnerships are mainly defined by business interests. Overall, the thesis argues that Big Tech’s humanitarian engagement is profit-oriented, skewed towards business interests and based on asymmetrical power relations.


For further information about the project, contact Sofie Elbæk Henriksen,


The page was last edited by: Department of Management, Society and Communication // 02/13/2024