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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