Limits to Corporate Social Responsibility: A Comparative Study of Four Major Oil Companies

FNI Report 7/2004. Lysaker, FNI, 2004, 26 p.

Several studies show that large revenues from extractive industries may undermine economic, political and social development in developing countries; a problem coined as the ` paradox of plenty’. This article explores whether four major oil companies accept this claim and how they have responded to this challenge. In brief, empirical evidence suggests that the companies recognise broader social concerns to varying degrees, but none of them fully accept the ` paradox of plenty’ problem. There are also important differences in organisational response, pertaining most notably to transparency of investments and how social concerns are integrated in corporate management systems. There is, however, no widely accepted corporate solution to the ` paradox of plenty’. The problem calls for innovative rather than proactive corporate responses.