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The politics of responsibility: States, rights and dialogue in mining governance

Jarvela, J. (2022). The politics of responsibility: States, rights and dialogue in mining governance. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This PhD thesis examines the boundaries of deliberation and how rights and responsibilities are divided between corporations, nation states, and civil society. As globalisation has integrated economies, and accelerated information exchange, it has also arguably restructured the division of responsibilities between state, market and society. In this world of continuously negotiated public and private interests, and multi-layered governance, how are hegemonies built, maintained or contested? Natural resource governance in general and mining conflicts in particular offer a fruitful context in which to explore governance and conflict dynamics in management research as they link the often overlooked role of the state within the discussion on corporate–civil society relations.

Drawing from political theory and political ecology literatures this research contributes to our understanding of governance gaps and the political role of corporations. It describes the political complexities that underlie state – corporate interactions, and the possibilities and shortcomings of private governance in replacing public forms of governance. The research unearths how different historico-political trajectories influence governance regimes, and how governance mechanisms emerge in different spheres of statehood – namely political, administrative and judicial. Furthermore, the research contributes to deliberative management literature by discussing the challenges in securing the basic tenets of participation and equality, and allowing for contestation, dissensus and conflict as part of the process.

The research is based on a qualitative case study approach, and data include semi-structured in-depth interviews, participant observation, and textual materials. The two case countries, Finland and Chile, represent polar types in mining governance, which enables theory building based on their similarities and differences.

The three articles of the PhD thesis examine different aspects of the governance interactions between public and private actors. The first paper investigates the differences of civil society actors as rightsholders and stakeholders in public and private governance, and how those roles, in turn, influence governance outcomes.

The second paper discusses the various roles of statehood in multi-stakeholder governance, and how governments deploy these new governance regimes for their political purposes. Advancing prior research on layered governance and public–private interactions, this paper demonstrates how the expectations and roles of the state transfer into multi-stakeholder initiatives. Thus, it is not only the government that steer the initiatives directly or indirectly, but the embeddedness of administrative and judicial spheres in MSIs that impact these governance constellations.

The third paper examines the case of Anglo American’s mining project Sakatti in northern Finland through an ethnographic approach. It takes a micro-level perspective and examines the power of place and place-based identities in corporate–community dialogue. Local values, meanings and knowledge are connected to persuasion and control through dialogue, and place is actively mobilised as a resource by both the company, and those who are opposed to the mining project. Place-basedness becomes an important frame for managing dissensus, contesting hegemony and silencing resistance.

Together all these articles contribute to the theorisation of the business–society interface and the broader discussion on the role of the state in assigning and sharing corporate responsibilities.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Departments: Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School
Doctoral Theses
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