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58 Int'l J.L. & Mgmt. 2 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/ijlm58 and id is 1 raw text is: The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:


Received 5 September 2014
Revised 5 September 2014
Accepted 12 October 2014

International Journal of Law and
Vol 58 No. 1, 2016
pp. 2-25
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Doi 10.1108'IJLMA-9-214-00D53

Two complimentary duties under
corporate social responsibility
Multinationals and the moral minimum in
Nigeria's Delta region
Uchechukwu Nwoke
Kent Law School, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the concept of corporate social
responsibility (CSR) in Nigeria's Delta region and draw a distinction between philanthropic CSR
(positive affirmative CSR) and the more demanding duty not to harm the ecosystem (negative injunction
CSR). It suggests that for CSR to contribute to sustainable development, oil multinational corporations
(MNCs) need to perform the more demanding duties and not only philanthropy.
Design/methodology/approach - The method applied is a critical evaluation of the nature and
categories of CSR. It thoroughly reviews existing literature on CSR and uses them to identify and
separate for analytical purposes, the different obligations arising from the concept.
Findings - The paper highlights the inability of oil MNCs in Nigeria to differentiate between
philanthropic CSR and the more demanding duty to care for the host communities and their
environment. It suggests that this failure, arguably attributable to the shareholder value model of
corporate governance, appears to lie at the heart of the unrest in the region.
Practical - By performing only the positive CSR duties, while neglecting the negative injunction
obligations, oil MNCs continue to attract hostility from the host communities who feel that their survival
is at stake.
Originality/value - The paper extends the knowledge of the CSR practices of MNCs in Nigeria, by
clearly delineating the two CSR duties and by linking the failure of MNCs to perform the negative
injunctions to the shareholder value model of corporate governance.
Keywords Nigeria, Niger Delta, Corporate social responsibility, Sustainable development,
Shareholder value, Multinational corporations
Paper type Research paper
Oil has come to be the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. At present, it is by some
distance the country's most important export commodity, accounting for over 80 per
cent of her revenue and 95 per cent of her foreign exchange earnings (Pegg and Zabbey,
2013; Iwejingi, 2013). As a result, it plays a crucial role in the country's economy, and will
continue to do so into the future. The oil industry - situated primarily in the Niger Delta
region of the country - encompasses both the federal government and subsidiaries of oil
multinational corporations (MNCs), such as Shell, Chevron, Total and ExxonMobil
(Ebegbulem et al., 2013).
The concession of mineral oil permits to the Shell d'Arcy Petroleum Development
Company by the colonial government in 1937 marks the starting point of MNCs'
activities in Nigeria, although exploration and surveying activities began as early as

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