Methods of Community Engagement between Oil Multinational Companies and Communities in the Nigerian Niger Delta Region: A Critical Analysis of the Activities of Eni SpA, Total SA and RD Shell
This thesis made new contributions to the company-community relations field by incorporating institutional theory, stakeholder theory and community engagement theory, to investigate the community engagement strategies, community relations approaches and social responsibility practices used by companies in a developing country. It makes new contributions to the debate on why multinational companies - Eni SpA, Total SA and RD Shell in the Nigerian Niger Delta region (NDR) struggle to establish and manage relations with host communities.\ud The research idea is founded on the concern that there is a failure in addressing why oil MNCs operating in Nigeria, fall short of meeting the expectations of communities, hence face diverse challenges from communities, including threats of losing their social licence to operate. Institutional theory, stakeholder theory and community engagement theory were purposefully and consistently applied to establish a theoretical foundation to explore and explain methods of community engagement, community relations approaches and social responsibility practices used by the three MNCs.\ud As a study that investigated ‘business in society’, a qualitative research paradigm was adopted, using a cross-sectional design to synthesise the experiences of the companies against those of their host communities, to articulate the slight variations in their approaches. In the data collection and analyses, the study employed a mixed method of secondary and primary research. The secondary research, involved an assessment of company archives and news media materials. Guided in-depth interviews with purposefully sampled senior managers in the three oil MNCs and community representatives, were introduced to advance the research into a full primary research. Data analyses were conducted using a qualitative content analysis, whereby identified themes were coded and then analysed and discussed extensively.\ud This thesis made new contribution to the theoretical application in company-community relations by being the first to incorporate institutional theory, stakeholder theory and community engagement theory to argue the role of valued interests in managing stakeholder expectations. This thesis proved that the three theories used, are interrelated in the sense that each, through different viewpoints, addresses relational issues within and between company and community, and explored the concepts of valued interests and expectations as relational concepts in the theoretical framework. The tripartite theoretical framework therefore offers a new theoretical approach for the contextualisation and rationalisation of company-community relations in a developing country.\ud This thesis also made a new contribution to theoretical knowledge in the stakeholder theory by pioneering in the identification of a stakeholder group the present researcher refers to as the ‘Mediante Stakeholders’, and established that in stakeholder mapping, there is a small stakeholder group within the overlap between internal stakeholders and external stakeholders of the organisation. What sets the mediante stakeholders apart from the rest of the stakeholder groups is the level of access that is given to the this unique stakeholder group and the ability to be both inside and outside the organisation/company at the same time.\ud Empirically, the interviews with oil MNCs and communities revealed different ways of engagement used, such as town hall meetings with communities, cluster development board meetings and other methods of communication including back-and-forth letter communications. Different strategies and approaches were used by MNCs and communities such as the blockade strategy (used by host communities), selective engagement (focusing on engaging the most powerful stakeholders), divide and rule strategy (a dangerous approach some of the oil MNCs have been accused of), and mediated engagement (using NGOs to engage host communities). The research concludes that the development and sustainability of methods of engagement in company-community relations depends on the willingness and commitment of the parties involved. It is the willingness and commitment to work together that guarantee the most constructive methods of engagement with host communities.