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dc.contributor.advisorNairn, Karen
dc.contributor.advisorAnderson, Vivienne
dc.contributor.authorCosta Camoes Rabello, Rafaela
dc.identifier.citationCosta Camoes Rabello, R. (2018). Understandings of Social Investment in the Oil and Gas Sector (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractEvery year, Oil and Gas (O&G) companies spend a significant amount of money on social investment programmes in communities that host their activities. Yet the benefits of these programmes are debatable. This thesis reports on a qualitative study, which explored O&G social investment experts’ discursive understandings of their social investment practices. The study involved 20 participants: 17 O&G social investment experts from 11 different countries, and three government representatives from two countries that hosted O&G companies. Participants were from all continents except for Asia. Data were collected through semi-structured and open-ended interviews. I also analysed the social investment guideline documents most frequently utilised by experts, namely the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability; and the World Bank Group (WBG) Community-Driven Development Principles. I used discourse analysis to examine and interpret the interviews and guideline documents. When participants talked about social investment, they adopted four main discourses, often in concurrent and conflicting ways. I describe these as working on, working around, working for, and working with discourses of social investment. Working on discourses revealed one-way and top-down understandings of social investment, where companies assumed they were the keepers of knowledge and the agents of development. Working around discourses positioned social investment as ultimately fulfilling the company’s operational interests, but also as benefitting communities. Working for discourses underpinned social investment developed for the purpose of meeting license compliance requirements, which tended to focus on the government’s agenda for social development. Working with discourses emphasised community-centred and participatory understandings of social investment. In this thesis, I argue that working with discourses represented the ideal approach to social investment. However, participants’ use of working with discourses was complicated by their simultaneous use of other discourses in discussing their social investment practices. Similarly, the guideline documents drew on all four discourses of social investment in complex and conflicting ways. Participants’ contradictory representations of social investment may have reflected the contradictions that were also evident in the guideline documents, which influenced their work. The experts’ use of the four discourses of social investment highlighted the contradictory nature of O&G social investment, and the complex positioning of social investment personnel, particularly when their personal views were at odds with institutional policies and practices. Overall, this research demonstrates the complexity of O&G social investment, which is often used as a single tool to address multiple issues, such as risk mitigation, compensation, license to operate, and community development. The thesis concludes with an alternative approach to O&G social investment, where social investment represents one of the main tools of social engagement, rather than its substitute; and where care, instead of profit, becomes the lynchpin of O&G social investment. I hope that this research serves as a starting point from which companies, social investment experts, communities, host country governments, and international banks can build more participatory and community-centred social investment programmes to promote positive futures for all people, rather than short-term gain for a few.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.titleUnderstandings of Social Investment in the Oil and Gas Sector
dc.language.rfc3066en of Education of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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