Resource enclavity and corporate social responsibility in Sub-Saharan Africa
: the case of oil production in Ghana

  • Abigail Hilson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Why has Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) yielded such disappointing outcomes in oil-rich sub-Saharan Africa? Over the past decades, a sizable body of literature has emerged which draws attention to the shortcomings of oil-related development and complementary CSR exercises in the region. Most critiques on the topic, however, assess specific interventions and/or policies but fail to evaluate the complex decision-making processes, dictated heavily by setting, which produce such actions altogether. This thesis attributes CSR outcomes in oil-rich sub-Saharan Africa to the unique context in which the decisions underpinning actions take place. In doing so, the analysis borrows ideas from a diverse body of literature spanning the international development, accounting, management and political science disciplines.
To explore these ideas further, the thesis focuses on the case of Ghana. The most recent “addition” to sub-Saharan Africa’s oil club, Ghana provides a rare glimpse of how decisions underpinning CSR have been identified, evolved and reshaped from the outset. To provide a comprehensive picture of CSR in the sector and its impacts at the local level, interviews and focus groups were conducted with a range of stakeholder groups. As is the case throughout sub-Saharan Africa, in Ghana, oil production occurs in offshore “enclaves”, which are disconnected geographically from local communities. This thesis argues that these dynamics have important implications for CSR. Findings point to companies also being disconnected ideologically from local development needs, which, in part explains the questionable CSR that has become such a contentious issue in the debate on oil and development in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. The enclave-type setting in which oil production occurs appears to have stifled creativity and innovation in the area of CSR. This, along with institutional weaknesses, regulatory deficiencies and the Government of Ghana’s failure to adequately respond to local-level concerns, has produced these outcomes.
Date of Award17 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorStuart M Cooper (Supervisor) & Alan D Lowe (Supervisor)


  • offshore CSR
  • legitmacy
  • stakeholders
  • economic development
  • accounting

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