Latest paper available at Extractive Industries in Society

As i tweeted yesterday, my latest paper ‘Political settlements, the mining industry and corporate social responsibility in developing countries’ is now available as a pre-publication online version at Extractive Industries in Society. This paper is a punchier version of my working paper last year just using the Zambian case and with more attention to what thinking in terms of political settlements would mean for research on mining and CSR. It’s behind a paywall right now but I’ll tweet a link with free access for 50 days when it’s published. I’ll also put a pre-proofs version on my university research page.

Here’s the abstract:

In this paper I take a ‘political settlements’ approach to examining the political effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in developing countries. The political settlements approach uses an integrated understanding of politics, power and institutional forms to explain how, given different political processes and incentives, the same institutional forms can produce different economic and developmental outcomes. I apply this lens to the CSR practices of large mining companies in developing countries, examining their impacts on local and national political settlements using the Zambian metals mining sector as a case study. Directly, CSR features little in the national debate on natural resource governance in Zambia but local CSR activity is considerable. I find that the CSR practices of large metals mining companies influence the governance of extraction and the possibility of inclusive development with notable consequences for institutions of traditional leadership. The resulting pattern of inclusion and development is argued to result from the interaction of two processes – elite bargaining and coalitions within exclusionary political settlements on the one hand, and CSR practices shaped by risk management on the other. I conclude by arguing that political settlements literature offers a rich seam for future research in the extractive sector if its limitations are addressed.

All feedback is welcome.

 

I’m giving a talk at Ryerson next week

On my current trip to Canada I’ll be giving a talk at Ryerson University’s Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility on ‘What’s the political impact of CSR? Evidence from the mining sector in Zambia, Ghana and Peru’ 12–2pm Tuesday May 22nd. More details and a link to the livestream for those interested but unable to attend can be found here. I’m pretty sure they archive the screencasts too so you can watch them later if you wish. I’ll be mainly presenting this paper, but also some of my more recent thinking on the topic of CSR and politics.

Free working paper on mining, CSR and politics out now!

The Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre have just published a working paper by yours truly on ‘Corporate social responsibility and political settlements in the mining sector in Ghana, Zambia and Peru’. It’s really a first cut at some of the findings from my work in 2014 which I’m currently writing up into some papers and a book. The abstract reads thusly:

This paper explores and compares the political effects of corporate social responsibility in the mining sector in Zambia, Ghana and Peru. The paper adopts a political settlements approach to answer the question: How do the CSR practices of mining companies affect local and national political settlements? After setting out the main tenets of the political settlements approach, this is articulated with literature on the politics of natural resource extraction and CSR. The paper then sets the wider context of the international drivers of increased attention to CSR in the extractive sector and before exploring the impact of the CSR practices of mining companies on the political settlement in Ghana, Peru and Zambia at the national and local levels. The final sections offer a comparative discussion of what the findings mean for understanding CSR’s role in inclusive development and natural resource governance. The paper argues that recent increased CSR expenditure does not necessarily translate into development for those living near mining companies, particularly in contexts of exclusionary political settlements, of which all case studies exhibited characteristics. There are a great many institutional and contextual limitations placed on the ability of CSR to deliver development for affected communities. Across the case studies, the opportunities CSR programmes afford tended to aimed at those with the greatest capacity to disrupt operations rather than those with the greatest need. In concluding, I argue that, despite some obvious limitations, the political settlements approach can generate new insights through its focus on the politics of development, and, in particular, the politics of stability.

Available here – Go check it out! All feedback welcome.

Listen to the talk I gave in Edinburgh this week

I recorded the talk I gave to the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh this week and you can listen to it here:

I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to such an interesting crowd and got some great questions (which aren’t included). I have high hopes we can get some future research collaborations with folks up there.

Listen to my talk on politics, CSR and development

Following the success of my last podcast I’ve decided to record my talks and stick them on this blog. So, here is the audio for my talk ‘Talking about politics: corporate social responsibility and development in Ghana, Perú and Zambia’ at Mining and Communities Solutions 2016, University of British Columbia, 5-8 June 2016.

Despite this being my first talk at a mining industry conference, it went down really well and provoked quite a bit of discussion. Listening again I hear it mainly as a masterclass in saying ‘erm’ a lot (I was rather nervous) but I did get my main points across quite well. I had little reason to be nervous it seems as my message – that we need to talk about CSR as a political intervention into host countries and communities – was broadly well received. This conference was a gathering of people who really do what to improve the impacts and benefits of mining for local communities and therefore very encouraging. I’ll be posting about my ‘take homes’ in the coming days.

Do let me know what you think.

I have a podcast!

A first! A few weeks back I gave the departmental seminar in my department as I’m coming to the end of my current research project (though the writing will continue for some time) and they recorded it and put it on Soundcloud. So, should you wish to hear my recent thoughts on mining and CSR, do have a listen. Should you wish to hear them again, you can download the podcast for your repeated listening pleasure. It has received some favourable mentions on the Twitter already. From people I have no idea who are, which is nice.

 

 

The irony is that seen as this was my first recorded talk to be distributed online it is also one of my least well prepared (It was recorded very shortly after my recent job interview). Which, I think, means that I come across much more black and white and critical than I would have intended. Ah well. Here’s hoping I have more time to get my message straight before it’s recorded for posterity next time. This has inspired me to record the talks I’ll be giving over the summer and upload them.

My (2010) PhD thesis is now available online

Me, in a more innocent time

Me, in a more innocent time

When I submitted it, there was the potential that some journals would treat copies online as having already published and

therefore not accept my proposed articles.  I thus set it to have a 5 year embargo. This passed a few weeks ago but I still can’t find it in the University of Manchester repository so, taking matters into my own hands, I’ve added it to my publications page.

You can find it here.
My thesis quite different from my current work and looks at the historical rise of copper mining in colonial Zambia. I look at the advances within the mining industry and colonial state that were required to turn a bit of remote African bush into a global centre of commodity production.

The proper abstract is:

This thesis examines the co-production of social inequality and an extractive space on the Zambian Copperbelt in the early twentieth-century. The rapidity and scale of the development of world-leading copper mines on the Copperbelt was described at the time as “one of the greatest mineral developments ever experienced” and took many observers by surprise. This thesis examines the origins of this boom. It argues that the success of mining on the Copperbelt is not only a result of the decisions and actions of miners and colonial officials in the 1930s to 1960s, but largely a result of those taken in the decades prior to this ‘heyday’. The keys to understanding this rapid transformation lie in the political and economic interventions and innovations which colonialism brought to (what was then called) Northern Rhodesia in the decades preceding the advent of large-scale mining. In this earlier period, dozens of mining and other commercial enterprises failed, but in their ruins the seeds of commercial success were sown. In this period too, many of the structures which generated and perpetuated the inequality and poverty which characterise contemporary Zambia were created. The success of extractive capitalism in Northern Rhodesia rested on changing regimes of access to and control over resources. Interventions in socio-ecological relations were a focus of British colonial rule in Northern Rhodesia and created the political and economic ‘infrastructure’ which enabled mining to take off rapidly when rich ore was subsequently discovered. This thesis explores how the Northern Rhodesian Copperbelt was produced as a space for natural resource extraction in the colonial period through attention to the military, political and economic practices which produced regimes of access to, and control over, resources. These interventions were key to instantiating new capitalist relations and asserting British rule in colonial Zambia. To examine the conditions in which the Copperbelt boom was produced, this thesis draws on existing work on this transition. In drawing on this work, this research offers a political ecological critique of the development of Zambian Copperbelt. The thesis highlights the complexities of the struggle to produce both extractive capitalism and stable colonial rule and how the production of an extractive space on the Copperbelt had long-term consequences for the territory’s development.