The corporate instigation of community-based organizations: analysis of two oil and gas companies in India

Siddiky, Shakera (2016) The corporate instigation of community-based organizations: analysis of two oil and gas companies in India. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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There is increasing evidence to suggest that Corporate Community Involvement (CCI) has gone beyond philanthropy towards more innovative approaches in addressing complex social problems. One example is particularly evident in developing countries where corporations organize the local community in their operational areas into community-based organizations (CBOs), such as self-help groups, and enable them to tackle social problems by themselves. In this thesis, I explore this emerging CCI mode, termed Corporate Instigation of Community-Based Organizations (CICBO), by focusing on the contexts in which such engagement is conceptualized, the process through which it is put into practice and the outcomes of such engagement.

I adopt an institutional perspective, grounded in the umbrella concept of institutional work that highlights the recursive relationship between institutional environment and organizational actions within which a new CCI mode emerges. An analytical framework is built around the constituent components of institutional work (e.g., enabling conditions, agency, actions and consequences) that allows for a process-oriented exploration of the emergence of a CCI mode as an organization-level institution. The framework is employed to examine three key aspects of CICBO: company motives to initiate the mode and the contextual factors that influence those motives, the micro-processes through which the mode emerges, and its outcomes at multiple levels. In doing so, my study presents an alternative theoretical perspective on CCI, one based on institutional work. At the same time, it also contributes to the bottom-up theorization of institutional work.

This research is interpretive in nature. A case study method is utilised for in-depth investigation of the CICBO mode of two oil and gas companies in India, the Oil India Limited and the Cairn India Limited, applying multiple qualitative research techniques such as interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis. The empirical findings provide valuable insights on the antecedents, processes and consequences in the emergence of the CICBO mode in particular and broader CCI discourse in general. This situates my research among the few studies that contribute to the processual understanding of CCI.

The study identifies a legitimacy crisis at the community level arising from incompatible institutional arrangements, recognition of future business threat or opportunity, and a company’s habitual orientation towards community engagement as the key drivers for CICBO. However, prevalence of such a contingent environment alone is not enough to manifest the CICBO mode. As an intelligent and reflexive actor, the company reflects on its past, assesses the present, projects itself into the future, and assigns different levels of importance to each of these factors. As observed in the study, CICBO emerges when securing future business interest is associated with ensuring long-term social legitimacy through effective solutions to critical social issues. This finding makes explicit the connection between strategic motives and subsequent framing of CICBO as the solution to achieve them.

CICBO aims to create a community-level practice of CBO-oriented collective problem solving. It focuses on gradually building important community capital in a way that enables the community to maintain the practice without company support. This signifies a dual institutional creation work where the activities for creating community-level practice in the field occur under the umbrella of a temporary CCI practice that is created in parallel. The company’s intention to continue the support for a limited time only reflects its commitment to community empowerment, rather than inflicting further dependence.

CICBO unfolds through iterative phases of conceptual (design) and operational (implementation) activities, where a stable template gradually emerges through repeated incorporation of ongoing learning. As such, the emergence of CICBO depicts high interactions among company, community and other social actors. In particular, the process highlights diverse roles of the local community as the initial adopters of the CBO-oriented practice, supporters in the promotional activities, part of the maintenance mechanisms, and most importantly eventual upholder of the practice. The findings identify the ability of CICBO to create shared values for the CCI actors and potential for community empowerment. More importantly, the success of CICBO is observed to inspire various social actors including other organizations and the wider community to engage in similar and complementary practices, resulting in widespread diffusion of CBO-oriented activities. The findings bring new insights for practitioners, policy makers and communities, particularly in developing countries, who seek to design and implement similar practices as effective and sustainable solutions for complex social issues.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Moon, Jeremy W.
Muthuri, Judy
Keywords: Corporate Community Involvement;Community-Based Organizations; Institutional Work
Subjects: H Social sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 38866
Depositing User: Siddiky, Shakera
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2016 06:40
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 21:17

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