Accepted paper:

Diverging Corporates: Explaining diverging performance by large scale mining firms in Africa


Fritz Brugger (ETH Zurich)
Rebecca Engebretsen (ETH Zurich)

Paper short abstract:

This comparative study of twenty mines in five different African countries explores why large mining companies are incorporating health impact assessments in their projects when it is not required by law. Our findings points to the salience of private governance regime in driving company behaviour.

Paper long abstract:

Many large-scale mining companies conduct environmental impact assessments (EIA) and worldwide countries have established legal requirement that an EIA must be done preceding large projects. Although an equally salient issues, the impact of large projects on public health has received comparatively less attention and health impact assessment (HIA) is not a legal requirement in any African country. Still we observe that some companies are considering the impact of their projects on public health, sometimes mitigating adverse effects and even investing in health promoting projects. In this paper we ask why certain companies chose to take a HIA approach in their project. We propose that divergent corporate behaviour can be explained partly by the different private governance regimes such as strategic social accountability mechanisms and investor guidelines, that companies ascribe to. Yet, because companies who ascribe to similar regimes also perform differently we also examine a number of intervening variables, including company size, home country, host government relations, and shareholders. Our study includes a longitudinal component as we incorporate impact of legacy, i.e. ownership of mines over time. To answer our research question we conduct a qualitative comparative analysis of twenty mines in four different African countries informed by primary data analysis of company documents. Our paper contributes by being the first to explain companies divergent behaviour when it comes to HIA in a comparative perspective. It furthermore contributes by explaining the weight of private governance regimes, which is an increasingly salient subject facing companies also beyond the extractive sector.

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