What does the implementation of sustainability standards and CSR practices do to power relationships at the local level?
In this study I take an autoethnographic approach and focus on my previous employer, the oil company Bankers Petroleum Ltd (Bankers) and their operations in Patos-Marinza, an area in south-central Albania where oil extraction facilities and residences lie close to one another. Through the lens of Political Discourse Theory, I examine three grievances raised by Patos-Marinza residents and Bankers’ response to these complaints.
My analysis shows how community demands, that could otherwise have put pressure on improved corporate practices, were isolated and silenced in the name of sustainability and corporate responsibility. As sustainability discourses continue to expand in the corporate world, this study highlights the need to critically examine what they do in local settings, if they foster change away from harmful business models or simply function as legitimising mechanisms that allow corporate power to grow stronger.
Sara Persson is a researcher in Business Studies at Södertörn University and has extensive experience from implementing international sustainability standards in the hydropower and oil industries in Albania. She has a multidisciplinary background with a B.A. in Political Science from Uppsala University, a B.A. in Economics and a M.Sc. in International Development and Management from Lund University.