Corporate social responsibility in the mining industry: Perspectives from stakeholder groups in Argentina
Since the liberalisation of its investment regime in the 1990s, Argentina has seen a rise in foreign direct investment into large-scale exploration and exploitation of mineral resources. However, many social groups (local communities, grassroots movement and the church) often strongly oppose new mining projects on the grounds of environmental, ethical and economic concerns. In a situation marked by widespread conflict, mining companies continue operating and develop Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives which are often promoted as a means of contributing to the sustainability and development of the nation. The paper develops a framework to highlight how the principles of stakeholder theory could be used as conceptual and practical guidance for conflict-resolution oriented CSR policies. The framework is further used to analyse two case studies of conflictive mining projects in Argentina. The paper explores how key stakeholders perceive contribution of CSR to welfare and the socio-economic development of mining communities and sustainable development of the nation. It demonstrates that institutional and social stakeholder networks often strongly oppose the idea of voluntary self-regulation implied by CSR in situations characterised by weak governance. Even though the CSR of companies could be improved in areas of corporate communication, transparency, stakeholder engagement and dialogue, it is not seen as a panacea for the social conflicts in the sector.
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