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Title: Reconceptualising Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at African mines : the case of Ghana
Author: Dauda, Suleman
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 1649
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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How are decisions in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arrived at in the mining sector, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest area of the globe and where corruption is rampant? To date, the literature on mining and development in sub-Saharan Africa has mostly analysed individual interventions made in the name of CSR and critiqued the case for embracing it. These assessments, however, very crucially overlook exploration, an essential phase of the mine lifecycle, during which inaugural dialogues are initiated with local communities that ultimately have a bearing on CSR strategy over the long term. The mining sector is a mergers and acquisitions industry, and in the developing world, the initial exploration phase typically sees numerous companies arrive to work a concession over a specified - and at times, lengthy - a period of time in locations that are often impoverished and ruled by unaccountable and corrupt governments. Each of these companies has its own management philosophy and strategy which ultimately shape dialogues and engagement with communities long before a mining commits to production. It is how the actions that occur during the exploration phase affect CSR outcomes which have gone virtually unexamined in the literature, a gap which this thesis seeks to bridge using a case study of Ghana, the location one of the largest and most dynamic mining economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the thesis examines the dynamics of community development and engagement at the initial exploration phase of mining projects, surveys local communities' perspectives on the subject, and assesses how the actions of international mineral exploration companies influence CSR outcomes at the production phase. It does so using a series of qualitative research methods, including semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with policymakers, NGO officers, mining and exploration company officials, and inhabitants of and leaders in mining communities, supplemented with field observations and content analysis of policy briefs, industry reports and company sustainability reports. The findings suggest that mining and mineral exploration companies do not communicate their CSR strategies to their host communities very effectively. While mineral exploration and mining companies use CSR as a platform to showcase their commitments to social and environmental standards, they have made little efforts to understand the socio-cultural, economic and political dynamics of their host communities. This, coupled with their over-dependence on CSR frameworks and standards designed mostly around Western cognitions, have limited the impact of mineral exploration and mining companies' social and environmental programmes. A critical examination of the exploration phase of mineral development projects in Ghana also reveals that host communities are not afforded the opportunity to provide inputs into decisions on how CSR should be operationalised. Further analysis revealed that host governments in mineral-rich sections of sub-Saharan Africa are more fixated on securing mineral rents than with getting companies to honour their commitments. This has allowed companies, particularly those exploring for minerals, to decide on the type of projects implemented in the name of CSR, without truly engaging with communities. The thesis makes significant contributions to knowledge in a number of ways. First, it introduces the lifecycle (temporal) dimension into the mining-CSR research and demonstrates in detail how the factors highlighted in the literature as underpinning CSR, apply in different settings. It also nuances further the mining-CSR discourse by demonstrating very clearly how events at one phase of the lifecycle (e.g. exploration) can influence developments at another phase (e.g. production). The research seeks to facilitate a 'rethinking' of how social and environmental programmes implemented in mineral-rich sub-Saharan Africa are assessed. It specifically calls for a shift in analysis from critiques which focus on the actions being taken at individual mine sites towards more comprehensive examinations of the different phases of mineral development projects, the actors involved and detailed histories of companies' engagements in communities, and reflects critically on how these factors shape contemporary CSR strategy. Finally, the thesis offers a blueprint for stakeholders in the mining industry, especially companies operating in Ghana and the wider sub-Saharan African region, on how to design and implement more grounded CSR strategies capable of bringing about meaningful change in local communities.
Supervisor: Hilson, Gavin Sponsor: Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral