CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) AS A CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY IN SELECTED OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES IN DELTA STATE, NIGERIA
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) involves giving back to the community where a business organisation operates. CSR is not supposed to be an occasional activity but a strategy that should be integrated into the overall operational plan of companies, especially those involved in oil exploration in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Uncoordinated or misdirected CSR has often led to conflicts between oil companies and their host communities, resulting in hostility, kidnapping and vandalisation of oil installations, which has impacted negatively on the country’s economy. There is a dearth of literature on the relevance of CSR to conflict management in Beneku, Ekakpramre and Kokori communities of Delta state, Nigeria. Therefore, this study assessed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a Conflict Management Strategy in Selected Oil Producing Communities in Delta State, Nigeria.
Triangulation research design that combined survey and indepth interview was adopted in this study. The population of the study according to the 2006 census figures comprised 148,341 members of Beneku, Ekakpamre and Kokori communities in Delta State, Nigeria. Multi-stage sampling technique was adopted to select a sample of 345 respondents for the survey. The composite Crobach’s Alpha score for the questionnaire indicated an internal consistency score of 0.797 meaning it had a high internal consistency. Representatives of the communities and the oil companies were purposively chosen for the indepth interviews. Data were collected using validated questionnaire and interview guide. Quantitative data were analysed using frequency count, simple percentages, charts and linear regression analysis. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis to report responses to the interviews.
Findings of the study indicated that CSR had not improved the relationship between the oil companies and the oil producing communities (Average Weighted Mean=1.98; SD=0.94) and that CSR projects provided to the host communities were partially adequate (Mean=1.89, SD=1.21). Respondents also indicated that CSR was a moderately significant strategy for managing conflict in the oil producing communities of Delta State (Mean=2.15, SD=1.24), rating the management of crisis by oil companies in Delta Sate as moderately effective (Mean=1.70, SD=1.00). Results also showed that the effectiveness of CSR as a conflict management strategy in oil producing communities was low (Mean=1.85, SD=0.72) because respondents believed mostly that CSR projects were provided by oil companies after conflicts had started in the area (n=215, 63.6%). CSR was observed to have a significant effect on conflict management in oil producing communities, indicating a strong positive correlation coefficient and positive slope, which are statistically significant (β=0.744; B=0.358; p<0.05) as assessed by a t-test (T=20432).
The study concluded that there was no cordial relationship between the oil producing companies and their host communities, and CSR was not effectively handled as a conflict management strategy. The study recommended that oil companies should consult stakeholders widely and be proactive in implementing CSR projects in their host communities. The Federal government should also monitor the activities of the oil companies and directly intervene in the development of the area.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility (CSR), Conflict, Conflict Management, Oil producing communities, Mutual relationship