Corporate Social Responsibility & Accountability Practices in Mining Companies and the impact on UN Sustainable Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa
: Malawi as a case study

  • McFoster Tembo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study explores the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Accountability practices exercised by mining companies operating in Malawi and their contribution towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This study examined how mining companies achieve the balance between generating economic value and simultaneously producing value to society by addressing societal and environmental problems, in the process contributing to the achievement of SDGs. The study mainly focused on SDGs that address societal challenges in the local communities where the mining companies operate (SDGs 1 to 6). An interview data of 40 participants from mining companies' managers, miners, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), government representatives, and community residents were obtained. The interviews also included six focus group discussions with the mining communities. Additionally, newspapers, magazines, reports, and other documents on CSR and sustainability from mining companies were obtained. The combination of interviews and focus groups provides a rather unique and rigorous methodology. The collected data were transcribed and analysed using verbatim quotes and documentary analysis. Findings suggest the following: CSR practices implementation adversely affected by the inadequate legal standards that focus more on developing the mining industry than protecting the community against unsustainable practices; Sustainability and CSR reports ignore disclosures of the unsustainable practices arising from mining operations, hence inadequate social accountability, responsibility and transparency; Lack of involvement of the key stakeholders in issuing of mining licenses and contractual agreements, with decisions politically rather than economically motivated; Inadequate engagement between mining companies and communities leading to unfair land acquisitions, and inadequate compensations to those affected, including women and children; Ineffective short term, individually developed strategies to accelerate SDGs implementation by the government and mining company policy makers; CSR agenda is driven by a mixture of factors including ethical responsibility, religious values, cultural values, management mindset and strategic factors. In view of these findings, the mining companies make limited contribution to SDGs, yet there is potential for this contribution to be enhanced. This thesis recommends the Dialogic Accountability Theory through the lens of the Arena Framework to be used as a guiding framework for mining companies in Malawi in their quest to maximise their contribution towards SDGs. Dialogic accountability theories have been used in previous studies to explore strategies that contribute to the advancement of human rights, sustainable environment, and emancipatory social change. The thesis also offers policy recommendations that could potentially influence reforms in governance and accountability in other organisations that operate in the Malawian context and other contexts, especially those in developing countries. Finally, the thesis contributes and enriches existing related literature by providing a methodological and theoretical contribution to studies on CSR, accountability and Sustainable Development.
Date of Award11 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorAlaa Alhaj Ismail (Supervisor), Hiba Massoud (Supervisor) & Panagiotis Andrikopoulos (Supervisor)


  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
  • Mining
  • Accountability Practices
  • Malawi
  • Dialogic Accountability Theory
  • Arena Framework

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