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Corporate security governance : multinational mining companies and the local political economy of violence in Peru Gamu, Jonathan Kishen

Abstract

Multinational corporations (MNCs) from the global mining industry have become increasingly active in security governance in areas of limited statehood. Since 2000 they have used dialogue and development activities to mitigate security risks associated with their operations. However, despite a proliferation of community engagement initiatives, violent protest in relation to industrial mining has risen globally. Accordingly, I analyze the efficacy of MNCs as security governors within the context of Peru’s mining sector. Over the past fifteen years this country has experienced a dramatic increase in mining-related social conflict, yet industrial mining has had heterogeneous effects locally. Using the subnational comparative method, I examine four cases that exhibit variation in conflict intensity in order to analyze the factors influencing MNCs’ impact on security. I argue that MNCs’ ability to mitigate violent social conflict is best explained using an analytical framework that accounts for the political economy of contention within which firms are embedded, and the intra-firm politics that determine their behaviour vis-à-vis civil society. The political economy of contention exogenous to firms establishes a local security baseline, predicting generic social conflict risks and patterns of violence likely to emerge during specific protest episodes. Given this external milieu, the organizational politics of the firm will determine its marginal effect. Firms that marginalize the voice of their community relations subunit are more likely to utilize coercion and cooptation alongside dialogue and development. However, heterogeneity in their security outputs undermines MNCs’ legitimacy as socially responsible agents, and hence the ability of community engagement to peacefully manage social conflict. This study constitutes one of the first systematic efforts to theorize and empirically evaluate the efficacy of MNCs’ local level security governing activities, a subject that has been understudied within the global governance literature. I find that while some MNCs have made modest short-term contributions to security, most have failed to construct conditions for sustainable, positive peace. The evidence presented challenges the prevailing conceptualization of MNCs as agents imbued with capacity-based governing authority, a form of governing legitimacy that is said to derive from their financial resources and perceived efficacy at achieving objectives.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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