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Contesting corporate environmentalism in post-apartheid South Africa : a process of institutional and organisational change

The environmental governance of multinational corporations in developing countries is relatively understudied. Much of the existing work on the greening of industry focuses on one scale of governance (international, national or local), without adequately accounting for the socio-spatial complexities, either external or internal to the firm, which influence the take up and implementation of corporate environmentalism at the site level. My thesis explores how and why corporate environmentalism has evolved in three South African fuel oil refineries (two in Durban and one in Cape Town) between 1994 and 2006. Institutional and organisational theory, with insights from the literature on spatialities of corporate greening, informs this study. An analytical framework of multinational corporation complexity and organisational field dynamics is established to explore the process of institutional and organisational change. At the macro or organisational field level, actors compete to construct meanings of legitimate corporate environmental practice. Organisational fields are shaped by the interaction between institutional actors, institutional logics and governance structures. At the micro level, firm legitimation strategies and characteristics may explain how corporate greening differs. The research findings are triangulated using key informant interviews, document analysis and social network analysis. Punctuated by key events, bifurcated processes of institutional and organisational change are documented. In Durban changing normative and cognitive institutions drove the evolution of regulation: above all, an internationally networked civil society exercised discursive power by demanding environmental justice and corporate accountability from the private and public sectors. In Cape Town the organisational field remained fragmented as community-driven discursive strategies did not achieve significant governance outcomes and institutional and organisational change evolved more slowly. The company with the most significant home country and parent company pressure, Shell/Sapref, made the most gains in repairing its legitimacy and improving its environmental performance. In sum, corporate environmentalism in post-apartheid South Africa has been contested and constructed by processes of scalar and place-based politics.
Date January 2010
CreatorsVan Alstine, James D.
PublisherLondon School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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