Abstract: In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of foreign-owned extractive industries in natural-resource-rich countries continues to increase. As these multinational corporations (MNCs) expand, there is increasing pressure from Western governments and NGOs for these corporations to give back to “resourcecursed” communities through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This paper explores the current challenges of CSR in sub-Saharan Africa through the lens of Carroll’s Pyramid of Social Responsibility, which reflects on a corporation’s pursuit of economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic responsibilities. With a focus on CSR initiatives that have the most economic benefit to both the MNC and the country in which it operates, this paper suggests that, in sub-Saharan Africa, the most challenging aspects of the pyramid are the legal and ethical contexts, as MNCs are often operating in countries with autocratic regimes and differing perceptions on the rule of law. Three US-based gas and oil exploration and production companies are compared through case studies to demonstrate how a focus on the legal and ethical contexts can potentially result in a more stable and financially successful corporation. Based on the challenges of having effective CSR initiatives in sub-Saharan countries, this paper will conclude with a recommendation that the most economically effective form of CSR may, in fact, be requiring more accountability on the part of MNCs and focusing on these companies upholding the legal and ethical contexts of Carroll’s pyramid to retain capital in the resource-cursed countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more in the June 2018 issue of the ISM Journal of International Business (Pages 15-23).

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