Extractivism and the Links between International Business and People’s Struggles
Special issue call for papers from critical perspectives on international business
Submission Deadline: 31 January 2018
Rafael Kruter Flores
Maria Ceci Misoczky
(for affiliations, biographical notes and contact details, see below)
Introduction to the Special Issue
Extractivism (i.e. the large-scale industrial processes that remove huge quantities of natural resources from the earth, and, without further or only limited processing, export them overseas) is an international business practice. It is not limited to minerals or fossil fuels; it is also present in farming, forestry, and fishing (Acosta, 2013). It is also a highly contested practice - it has historically been, and continues to be, resisted by an array of different actors worldwide. The study of extractivist corporate practices and people’s struggles against them are hence important for the field of critical international business studies. Extractivism involves a specific alignment of corporate, state and civil society actors to influence political decisions of sovereign countries with the support of international political and financial institutions.
The alignment and the specific roles of different actors have been mostly studied by political scientists and economists, while being relatively absent from the mainstream international business literature. When it comes to the engagement with local communities, the dominant approach in these literatures is to study the governance arrangements that would provide means of collaboration and conflict management, guaranteeing the success of extractivist projects (Doh and Ramamurti, 2003; Banks, 2008; Oetzel and Getz, 2012; Lin, Li and Bu, 2015). Therefore, academic literatures – particularly in international business studies – have been silent on these conflictuous dynamics.
Extractivism has a long history. It has appeared in different guises over time and has been essential for the development of capitalism. In fact, colonialism has largely been shaped by extractivism, as the emerging capitalist states and their corporations were eager to colonize the riches of Latin America, Africa and Asia (Galeano, 1997). Whether in the silver mines of Potosí, the gold mines of South Africa or the vast coal mines in Australia, colonial modes of extraction ensured that the colonies provided raw materials, cheap energy and food to the colonizers, enabling the latter to accumulate capital and fuel their development. In the 19th and 20th centuries, colonial practices of domination gave way to imperialism and a renewed global schema of extractive practices and politics. Nowadays, neoliberal hegemony organizes and orients social production of life around an even more intense extractive economy. Extractivism is not confined to the past or the Global South; it is a global phenomenon.
However, it has never gone unchallenged. Since the first’s onslaughts on nature and people by colonizers in different parts of the world, indigenous people have opposed extractivism and the destruction of their ways of living. Nowadays, not only indigenous groups but also rural communities, ecological movements and many other social groups have been organizing locally and globally, articulating manifold domestic struggles, often embedded in international networks. The Environmental Justice Atlas (2016) lists hundreds of such struggles around the globe.
Extractivism is generally controlled by large transnational corporations. Nonetheless, people’s struggles have been pushing corporations and governments to the creation of new forms of doing business, focused not only on technical and economic criteria, but also on the need to demonstrate the legitimacy of their practices. With different levels of intensity, and ranging from coercion to consensus, extractive industries in many places have been obligated to make use of different tools to deal with increasing social and environmental consequences. Chief amongst these tools are Corporate Social Responsibility strategies (Kapelus, 2002; Misoczky and Böhm, 2013), usually with the complicity of some civil society actors.
The state is also a key player in the contemporary political economy of extractivism, by creating the conditions that enable corporations to accumulate wealth regardless of people’s struggles. NGOs are often used to create and implement Corporate Social Responsibility strategies, aimed at gaining social licenses. Extractivism can hence be seen as an international business practice that involves a specific alignment of corporate, state and civil society actors to influence political decisions of sovereign countries, often supported by international political and financial institutions.
Hence, it is essential to taking into account the analysis of people’s struggles that oppose extractivism and the specific alignment between corporations, NGOs and the state that make these projects possible. By people we refer to social subjects (such as peasants, indigenous communities, the homeless and unemployed as well as homeworkers) who are often invisible in the analysis and definitions of collective action, which is traditionally centered on the institutional and structural dimensions of protest (Zibechi, 2012). We follow Dussel (2010: 126) for whom the people is the expression of the Gramscian notion of the social bloc of the oppressed.
In the following paragraphs, we mention a few examples of groups, communities and movements organizing themselves to oppose the logic of extractivism, in defence of their ways of life and nature. Yet, corporations targeted by these movements are by no means passive actors, using a variety of strategies to neutralize opposition and gain legitimacy and social licenses.
Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is the newest, example of extractivism. The fracking boom started in 2005 when the Bush administration created environmental exemptions for non-conventional fossil fuels in the USA. Less than 10 years later, in 2013, fracking made up 43% of the country’s oil production and 67% of its natural gas production (Fauset and Finley, 2015). Canada and Australia, too, are economies dominated by the extractive industries, which have privileged access to land and strongly influence national politics. In many parts of Europe, mining and new forms of oil and gas drilling are also expanding at an unprecedented scale and pace.
In the Global South extractivism continues unabatedly. Although commodities prices have been falling sharply since 2013/14, the reaction of corporations, in alliance with governments, has been to intensify extractive activities. For example, in the Mining Arc of the Orinoco River, which includes Venezuela’s largest watershed, an area of 989,000 sq km, occupying 65% of the country, the Government plans to exploit minerals such as gold, coltan, diamonds and bauxite (Ramirez, 2016). Another example comes from Amazonian indigenous Shuar territory in Ecuador, where the community of Nankints in the Morona Santiago province was evicted in August 2016 to give way to the construction of a mining camp by the Chinese company Explorcobres SA. Not to mention the many other Chinese mega-projects currently in operation or under construction in various African countries.
Equally, the Sioux nation in the United States are fighting against the building of an oil pipeline which would threaten their ancestors’ land and water. In Argentina, a resistance group organized itself, succeeding in stopping the exploitation of the Famatina Mountain (Misoczky and Böhm, 2015). The global anti-fracking movement has been fighting back, starting to realize that it has to be more than just a ‘not in my backyard’ movement. There is also a global movement against Monsanto, the corporative key international player in transgenic soybean production (Occupy Monsanto, 2016).
The purpose of this special issue is two-fold: Contributions should advance the understanding of the powerful logic of extractivism as a specific kind of international business and the alignment of corporate, state and civil society actors that make up the international business of extractive industries. Second, contributions should investigate people’s struggles against extractivism in their manifold ways, and the relation of these struggles with corporate practices oriented towards social legitimacy. Authors are invited to discuss the following possible topics (although this does by no means constitute an exhaustive list):
• Political economy of extractivism: global value chain analyses of the exploitation of natural resources;
• Corporations and governments: corruption and distinct aspects of contracts between large companies and governments; the corporate capture of politics;
• International institutions and their role in promoting extractivism;
• Theoretical explorations of the term extractivism and its role in capitalist development over time;
• Histories of extractivism in the Global South and Global North;
• The role of NGOs and other civil society groups in furthering the logic of extractivism;
• Corporate social responsibility as a tool to counter and neutralize social demands;
• Organizational practices of specific cases of struggles against extractive industries;
• Different worldviews manifestations in the struggle for different ways of living;
• Global mapping of struggles against extractivism, including the analysis of their outcomes.
Submission Process and Deadlines
The deadline for submissions is 31st January, 2018. For more information on critical perspectives on international business, including style guidelines, please visit the journal’s website at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/loi/cpoib/.
All submissions will be subject to the regular blind peer review process of critical perspectives on international business. Submissions to the special issue are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/cpoib.
Acosta, A. (2013) Extractivism and neoextractivism: two sides of the same curse. https://www.tni.org/files/download/beyonddevelopment_extractivism.pdf
Environmental Justice Atlas (2016), www.ejatlas.org
Banks, G. (2008) Understanding “resource” conflicts in Papua New Guinea. Asian-Pacific Viewpoint (49(1): 23-34.
Doh, J. P. and Ramamurti, R. (2003) Reassessing risk in developing country infrastructure. Long Range Planning, 36: 337-353.
Dussel, E. (2010) El pueblo, lo popular y el populismo. En Pensando el mundo desde Bolivia: I Ciclo de Seminarios Internacionales (págs. 113-131). La Paz: Bolivia.
Fauset, C. and Finley, E. (2015) Energy from below: the anti-fracking movement. https://roarmag.org/essays/frackanpada-anti-fracking-movement
FoE (2012) Shale gas: energy solution or fracking hell?, Briefing paper, March, http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/shale_gas.pdf
Galeano, E. (1997) Open veins of Latin America: five centuries of the pillage of a continent (25th anniversary edition). London: Latin American Bureau, http://www.e-reading.org.ua/bookreader.php/149187/Open_Veins_of_Latin_A…
Kapelus, P. (2002) Mining, corporate social responsibility and the “community”: The case of Rio Tinto, Richards Bay Minerals and the Mbonambi. Journal of Business Ethics, 39, 275-296.
Lin, P. T., Li, B. and Bu, D. (2015) The relationship between corporate governance and community engagement: evidence from Australian mining companies. Resources Policy, 43: 28-39.
Misoczky, M. C. and Böhm, S. (2013) Resisting neocolonial development: Andalgalá’s people struggle against mega-mining projects. Cadernos Ebape.Br 11(2): 311-339.
Misoczky, M. C. and Böhm, S. (2015) The oppressed organize against mega-mining in Famatina, Argentina: Enrique Dussel’s ethics of liberation. In: Pullein, A. and Rhodes, C. The routledge companion to ethics, politics and organizations. New York: Routledge, 2015. P. 67-84.
Occupy Monsanto (2016), http://occupy-monsanto.com/
Oetzel, J. and Getz, K. (2012) When and how might firms respond to violent conflicts? Journal of International Business Studies, 43: 166-186.
Ramirez, P. (2016) The Mining Arch of the Orinoco River, Venezuela. http://www.crowdh.com/the-mining-arch-of-the-orinoco-river-venezuela
Zibechi, R. (2012) Territories in resistance: A cartography of Latin American social movements. Oakland: AK Press.
About the Special Issue Editors
Rafael Kruter Flores is Professor at the School of Administration of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil where he received his PhD. He coordinates the research group Organization and Liberation Praxis and his research focuses are on organization studies, critical political economy of organization, nature and the commons.
Contact: [email protected]
Steffen Böhm is Professor of Organisation & Sustainability at the University of Exeter, UK. He holds Visiting Professorships at both Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He received his PhD from the University of Warwick. His research focuses on political economies and ecologies of organization, management and the environment, with a special interest in the study of the politics and organization of social movement.
Contact: [email protected]; web: http://steffenboehm.net
Maria Ceci Misoczky is Professor of Organization Studies at the School of Administration of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. She also coordinates the research group Organization and Liberation Praxis and is Co-Chair of the Critical Management Studies International Board. She has received her PhD from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. Her research interests focus on the organizational practices of social movements and popular struggles, Latin-American social thinking and critical ontology.
Contact: [email protected]