"We give back". A structuration perspective on the contribution of Corporate Social Responsibility to positive peace: the case of Belize Natural Energy Ltd
This thesis examines the potential contribution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the achievement of a positive peace in societies where violence has penetrated the social structure. The objective of the research is to explore how CSR can be designed to enable companies embracing a peace-oriented approach in conducting their businesses. CSR, in fact, is a well-established business practice, which is evolving along with the growing public demand for ethical, sustainable and responsible business performances. The research investigates how CSR can be functional to a shift from a business paradigm traditionally focused on profit maximization, to a peace business paradigm that considers social needs, equity and respect for the environment, values to be integrated at the core of business strategies and operations. CSR potential contribution to positive peace is investigated using structuration theory as a framework. Such perspective sets the premises for creating a model according to which companies are agents embedded in a social structure and able to interact with it through their CSR initiatives. The concept of positive peace has been chosen as the lens from where to look at the highlighted process ongoing in countries affected by structural violence. To meet the objective, the study relies on a case emerged from the context of Belize: the Belize Natural Energy Ltd.’s CSR profile and initiatives. Data come from 23 contributions in the form of semi-structured interviews and open conversations, providing insights into the Belizean culture of violence, the social role played in the country by the private sector, and in particular into the company’s CSR strategies and initiatives. Data collected from the local informants denote that Belize is a country at peace in a very narrow sense, the country social structure is facilitating violence, and to foster peace a transformative approach is necessary. Moreover, they indicate that BNE Ltd.’s CSR is sound and consistent with the company mission, vision and values, and that its initiatives are able to positively influence society. The study findings suggest that if BNE Ltd. would invest its resources in integrating CSR into the core of all its operations and in monitoring the initiatives’ impact on society recursively, the company could be a welcomed agent of change in Belize. The study findings ultimately indicate that CSR, in order to enable a significant structural change, need to be effective and profitable. In terms of effectiveness, CSR has to target social needs and structural issues specific of a local context via initiatives aimed at substantively impacting society, so as to reinforce the positive structures and transform instead the detrimental ones, thus preventing them from reproducing themselves. In terms of profitability, CSR has to be collectively endorsed and sustainable in time; in other words, consistent with company’s values, embedded in the company culture, and ideally integrated in the company business operations. The study contributes in bringing evidence on the current debate on the redefinition of business value, as a shared value. In this context, companies need to find their modalities and incentives to shift from a profit-oriented mandate to a social one, from a traditional business paradigm to a peace business one, knowing that companies embracing such shift can actively contribute in transforming social structures promoting a positive peace Key words: Corporate Social Responsibility, positive peace, peace business, structural violence, Structuration Theory, structure, agent, Creating Shared Value, Belize, Belize Natural Energy Ltd.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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Copyright 2015 The Author(s)
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