A Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Risk Management, Corporate Sustainability Communication, and Risk Perception: The Case of Tullow Oil in Ghana
MetadataShow full item record
In the West African country Ghana, which has a history of poor natural resource management, discovery of offshore petroleum resources in 2007 and subsequent commercial production in 2010 (with British multinational Tullow Oil as lead operator) is a potential source of potential wealth and inequality. Using the Cultural Theory of Risk, Social Amplification of Risk Framework, and the Corporate Sustainability Framework — a proposed model—as theoretical foundations, this dissertation examines corporate sustainability practices, communication, and their implications for local residents’ risk perceptions, corporate reputation, and risk management. The study also assesses how cultural worldviews and informational networks (e.g., an environmental group, opinion leaders, and media) amplify or attenuate residents’ risks perceptions. Data were collected via interviews with key actors including a non-governmental organization (NGO), a survey of a representative sample of Half Assini residents in one of the six coastal districts that adjoin Ghana’s offshore petroleum region, and analyses of Tullow’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and other communication texts. Extant worldview and corporate reputation measures were also developed/adapted and tested. The study finds support for the view that cultural worldview and affect are associated with public risk perceptions. Thus, individuals who (a) do not subscribe to the worldview that government ought to regulate corporate behaviors, (b) show a relatively high sense of attachment to their communities, (c) rate the images associated with Ghana’s offshore oil production favorably, and (d) rate the images associated with Tullow Oil positively are more likely to be worried that Ghana’s offshore oil production poses significant risks for the country and their local communities. Regarding corporate sustainability communication, the study observes that Tullow uses a predominantly technical, expert-driven approach, which seeks to discursively position it as an aspirational, engaged, and responsible organization. While critiquing Tullow’s corporate sustainability and communication approach, the research also argues that corporate sustainability (CSR and risk) communication has the potential to constitute desirable corporate practices and could ultimately culminate in meaningful social change. Theoretical contributions to risk perception, risk management/communication, corporate reputation, and CSR communication are discussed. Practical implications for advocacy, corporate practices, and public participation in environmental decision-making are discussed.