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Corporate social responsibility and multinational enterprises in developing countries : natural resource exploitation in Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia

This thesis critically examines the corporate social responsibilities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating in developing countries. A conceptual and theoretically oriented literature review is followed by focused discussions, chapter by chapter, of employee relations, community development projects, health and safety, and environmental impacts. The empirical domain is the activities of MNEs in the extractive industries of Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. The discussion in each of the main empirically based chapters is lent focus and direction through the analysis of critical incidents from the perspectives of various stakeholders: governments, companies, employees, local communities and the media. Primary data relating to critical incidents was gathered from archival sources and through fieldwork interviews with personnel from multinational oil and mining companies, governments, petroleum and mining unions and local community representatives in Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. Oral history testimonies and documentary materials have been analysed with reference to three influential and widely used theoretical frameworks. This approach has enabled the testing of various theoretical propositions and the establishment of benchmark standards for evaluating the activities of MNEs in terms of corporate social responsibility and business ethics. It is shown that multinational oil and mining companies often fall short of international benchmark standards of corporate social responsibility when operating in developing countries. The perceptions of host governments, unions and local communities are often negative and arouse strong feelings of hostility to the point that the behaviour of MNEs is described by informants as unethical or immoral. Hostile feelings and negative attitudes of the kind revealed in this thesis have their foundation in industrial and corporate strategies and structures, defying any explanation cast in terms of poor corporate communications. It follows that the remedy needs to be fundamental and thoroughgoing. This conclusion has not yet been fully accepted by all of the extractive MNEs operating in Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia. However, they do concede that their operations can have negative consequences for health, families, local communities and the environment. As a result, and in the absence of sufficiently binding national regulations, they have introduced voluntary codes of conduct and emphasise corporate social responsibility in mission statements and other public relations materials. On the basis of the evidence presented in this thesis, it is argued that these efforts, though laudable, are inadequate when confronting the strategies and structural pressures that give rise to unethical business practices. 2
Date January 2001
CreatorsEweje, Gabriel
PublisherRoyal Holloway, University of London
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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