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Title: From silence to constructive engagement : a framework for corporate human rights strategies
Author: Seppala, Nina
ISNI:       0000 0001 3394 0283
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis sheds light on the range of strategies that companies can pursue in order to deal with human rights concerns in countries where the host government is responsible for systematic human rights violations. It does so by the comparative analysis of the policies and activities that four companies carried out in two countries: (i) Total and Premier Oil in Myanmar and (ii) Talisman and Lundin in Sudan. The analysis of the cases shows that human rights issues do not only involve material conditions that prevent people from enjoying human rights or constitute a direct violation of their rights, buy they may also pertain to the way in which stakeholders perceive or view a particular situation. The nature of the human rights issue is important because it affects the way in which the issue can be addressed. The analysis of the cases suggests that the activities carried out by the companies to address human rights issues can be separated into five different strategies: (1) direct strategies involving concrete action that companies take to influence the objective conditions that give rise to human rights issues, (2) indirect strategies pertaining to attempts to persuade other actors to take action over the conditions that give rise to issues, (3) information strategies involving attempts to affect stakeholder views through the provision of information, (4) leveraging strategies aimed at affecting stakeholder views through verification measures or appeals to authority, and (5) stakeholder engagement strategies concerned with attempts to affect stakeholder views by increasing mutual understanding between companies and their stakeholders through two-way communication. The present thesis makes two main contributions. First, it sheds light on the little researched area of corporate approaches to human rights. More specifically, it makes a theoretical and practical contribution by classifying activities that companies have carried out to address human rights issues into five types of human rights strategies and identifying factors that affect the choice between the different strategies. No previous research exists on the action that companies have taken in response to human rights issues. Second, the present research draws on and adds value to literature on issues management and stakeholder management by contributing to a better understanding of the ways in which companies address social issues and stakeholder demands. As Wood (1991) observed, there is a lack of research on the vehicles or methods of corporate response to society's changing conditions and expectations. Previous literature has focussed on the identification of issues and stakeholders rather than the behaviours that companies assume to deal with issues and stakeholder demands (e.g., Andriof & Waddock, 2002; Berman et al., 1999).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Suomen Akatemia ; Suomen Kulttuurirahasto ; Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) ; Warwick Business School
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD28 Management. Industrial Management