Purpose – This paper critically explores the interactions of key stakeholders and their impact upon CSR practices in the Zambian copper mining sector.
Design/methodology/approach – This case study of the Zambian copper mining sector utilises an overall political economy framework, focusing on power asymmetries between the state and MNCs. Within this context, we draw on both stakeholder salience theory and legitimacy theory in order to explore the interactions of key stakeholders and their impact upon CSR practices.
Findings – We find power asymmetries between the state and MNCs existing according to a number of different dimensions which are exacerbated by a number of factors including divisions within the government itself as a key stakeholder. However, despite the existence of stark power asymmetries, we find that in the Zambian context, there are some possibilities for agency on the part of civil society, and so that legitimacy theory has some (albeit limited) explanatory potential.
Originality/value - The paper contributes to the literature on CSR in developing countries by exploring these issues in a critical case, that of the Zambian copper mining sector on which the economy is so heavily dependent.