Corporate Environmental Responsibility in Russia
: Paradoxes in the Oil Industry

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The Russian oil industry is responsible for supporting the largest post-Communist
economy, and as the world’s second largest exporter of oil, the country is not
immune to the growing trend of corporate social responsibility (CSR). However,
despite increasing adoption of CSR principles by Russian oil companies, research
into this emerging topic is scarce, and knowledge of how Russian oil companies
perceive and practice corporate environmental responsibility (CER), as a
dimension of CSR, is very limited. Previous literature has argued that CSR
research needs to take account of different national contexts and stages of
economic development. This thesis addresses this research gap by developing a
theoretical framework that explains the role of national institutions in the
development of distinct CER strategy practiced by State and private domestic oil
companies in Russia.

A review of the literature led to the development of a theoretical framework based
on seven propositions, which are explored against empirical data. To obtain the
comprehensive picture of the role of Russian national institutions rich qualitative
data was collected and thematically analysed from 32 interviews with individual
actors, including 16 representative of 4 domestic oil companies; and other
stakeholders, with first-hand knowledge of CER practices in the Russian oil
industry, across multiple hierarchical levels – lower/middle and senior levels.

The research and theoretical development, whilst exploratory, suggest that
Western interpretation of CER models is not applicable in the Russia oil industry.
CER strategy practiced by the Russian oi companies is highly contextualised and
deeply embedded in complex inter-institutional dynamics that emerged from
Russia’s geography and history. The results indicate that the theoretical
framework is rigorous enough to demonstrate that using government signals
framed by unique traditional and Soviet induced cultural characteristics that oil
companies interpret CSR as complex two-level paradox. ROCs’ concentrate vast
amounts of resources on embracing immediate tension between societal and
economic concerns to improve Russian society, leaving the tension between
societies/economic concerns and environmental responsibilities to be resolved in
the distant future. The results suggest that ‘po-russki’ paradox of CER faced by
the oil industry can be resolved and all three CSR demands can be attended to
simultaneously, if a system-wide proliferation of responsible education is ensured
to develop ethical business practitioners.
Date of AwardMay 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorStephen Hogan (Supervisor) & Kevin Turner (Supervisor)

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