Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is promoted and critiqued by many players involved in or opposing petroleum exploration and extraction. Yet a common understanding of CSR's theoretical and practical meanings rarely exists. This project used Arctic petroleum in northern Norway and northeastern Russia to investigate local perceptions of CSR.
We conducted open-ended, semi-structured interviews in four locations: Hammerfest, Murmansk, Komi Republic, and Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO). Interviewees included the local population, regional and local authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and petroleum company representatives. The field research suggested that those gaining directly from the petroleum industry and not directly experiencing negative impacts were more inclined to be positive about it, although overall, general support for petroleum activity was high.
In some cases, positive economic benefits resulted in greater tolerance of environmental risk. Sometimes, the industry and government were criticised by locals for failing to support a more equitable distribution of broader economic benefits. Rather than splitting along for-profit/NGO or indigenous/non-indigenous lines, the project's results suggest that those closer to the petroleum industry or its benefits, termed "insiders", tended to be more positive than "outsiders".
This project has provided perhaps the first study of local perceptions of CSR for Arctic petroleum across and comparing Norway and Russia. While much previous work aimed to highlight trends and patterns, this work emphasises the importance of understanding complex, interacting contexts within any community.
Many players involved in or opposing petroleum extraction focus on the importance of social and environmental sustainability, yet a common understanding of what sustainability means rarely exists. Instead, corporations, local community sectors, NGOs, and academics can have different perceptions of sustainability. This project aims to identify and reconcile some of the differences for Norway and Russia, providing a baseline for cross-border dialogue and collaboration amongst players related to petroleum ex traction. New knowledge is generated through original case studies and analyses, moving forward academic studies of sustainability.
This project's hypothesis is: When petroleum companies and local peoples/governments negotiate benefit-sharing agreements for petroleum extraction, these parties agree on outcomes that exclude aspects of social and environmental sustainability often promoted by academics and NGOs. Testing the hypothesis contributes to indicating how Norway may improve its own practices and h ow current practices might be applied to sustainability- and resource-related collaboration with Russia.
Data are from quantitative local value creation analyses and qualitative interviews in case studies in Northern Norway and the Russian Arctic coverin g Norway's focus areas in the Barents region. The interviews examine the views, interests, and economic realities of corporations, academics, NGOs, and 4 different community sectors: indigenous peoples, non-indigenous peoples, local government, and local businesses.
Results are disseminated scientifically principally through 6 peer-reviewed papers and 4 conference presentations. Popular science dissemination includes website and magazine articles, fact sheets, and press releases. Material is produced in English, Norwegian, and Russian. As well, a Norwegian government User Group is created, plus Russian policy summaries are produced, to ensure that results reach users who are not interviewed.