Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Doreen M. McGunagle

Abstract

This ethnographic study was designed to explore the phenomenon of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the mining industry. The research addressed the impacts of a problematic, systemic, and ethnocentric (top-down) CSR approach driven by a transnational mining company, and proposed a novel cultural relativist (bottom-up) CSR approach looking at the social needs of the community. Solving the problem stemming from the ethnocentric approach is important for both the mining company and the community affected by the CSR program, as it will alter dynamics between actors and mitigate social conflicts. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors that improve the fractured relationship between the community and the mining company and put its social license to operate at risk. The mitigation of social conflicts is needed for the mining corporation to maintain its social license to operate in a harmonic and collaborative mining-community relationship. The research question was designed to gather the perceptions of corporate leaders and community members in Chile's Andacollo mining area regarding the imbalance between the ethnocentric and cultural relativism perspectives adopted in CSR policies and practices. A purposive sample of 30 subjects was interviewed to collect data regarding their perceptions that were then categorized, coded, and interpreted using an inductive approach and thematic networks. The research findings showed that improvements in CSR practice are likely to result from the mining company placing emphasis on the social dimension. A shift from a top-down to a bottom-up CSR approach will contribute to the reduction of social conflicts, build a socially sustainable setting, and foster positive social change with benefits for the society.