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Blood money: A grounded theory of corporate citizenship; Myanmar (Burma) as a case in point

Corporate Citizenship as a social phenomena spans a growing body of corporate initiatives, nascent policy frameworks, and global civil society action. Corporate engagement with fragile states, and other situations identified as contexts of conflict and/or weak governance, is the subject of scholarly and practitioner research by those with an interest in Corporate Citizenship. In this thesis I represent the corporation as a legal entity with significant political and socio-economic impacts. Responsibility for these impacts is the subject of ongoing social critique and contest. I consider the corporate form as a site of broad protest at the environmental devastation and social dislocation that has accompanied the globalisation and intensification of neo-liberal economic activity. My analytic focus is the range of social processes involving actors from the private, civil and political sphere, through which understandings of responsible, potentially 'constructive' corporate engagement in fragile states are created, contested and transformed. Further, efforts to embed Corporate Citizenship as the normative basis for global business practice broadly reflect aspirations for greater social justice. In identifying and describing intentions, aspirations and forms of corporate engagement in fragile states, and the social process through which these change, I critically examine the discourses of development, security and governance which underpin Corporate Citizenship efforts. In this thesis I offer a grounded theory of Corporate Citizenship in Fragile States I have developed through an empirical case study of the oil and gas industry in Myanmar (Burma). Working within a social constructivist perspective in the grounded theory research tradition, I have employed an iterative analytic process to develop the theory presented. In this process the sampling of data was undertaken to challenge and develop concepts in the emerging theory, concepts identified using a method of constant comparison within and between sets of data. I continued these concurrent processes of data-collection, analysis and theoretical development until I judged the theory to be a sufficiently complete description of the focus of inquiry. A total of seven broad sets of data informed the development of the theory presented. These datasets include over a hundred interviews in seven countries with stakeholders in three joint-venture offshore exploration and production projects in Myanmar (Burma) undertaken from July 2006 to August 2009. The datasets also draw from an extensive body of corporate and advocacy group publications regarding foreign investment in Myanmar, along with other secondary data sources. In this inquiry I have explored the multiple interactions between corporate, state and civil society actors through which understandings of 'responsible' corporate engagement in Myanmar are created, enacted and transformed. I have identified and conceptualised four social processes at work in these interactions, which I describe in the grounded theories of: (1) Commercial Diplomacy (describing the use of enterprise as a conduit for foreign policy by states, particularly as it relates to 'ethical' business activity) (2) Stakeholder Activism (critiquing the aims and strategies of transnational civil society organisations who advocate for 'responsible' corporate engagement) (3) Corporate Engagement (explaining variation in the motivations and terms of corporate engagement, specifically different forms of divestment or engagement, as strategic responses to stakeholder activism, commercial diplomacy and other factors which influence the enterprise context) (4) Constructive Corporate Engagement (a conceptual framework, grounded in multiple stakeholder-views and drawing from the international development discourses of state fragility and human security, for considering the potentially constructive impacts of corporate engagement). Working within and between these four theories, I generated an overarching grounded theory of (5) Corporate Citizenship in Fragile States. From these theories I offer a critical analysis of Corporate Citizenship as the normative basis for a new articulation between the economic, social and political spheres in pursuit of a more equitable global order.
Type of thesis
Black, N. M. (2009). Blood money: A grounded theory of corporate citizenship; Myanmar (Burma) as a case in point (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3577
The University of Waikato
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