Making gains from “good oppressors”: Global South states contesting, instrumentalizing and negotiating responsible business in the UN and Tanzania

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This thesis analyses the positioning of states from the Global South towards Global North driven responsible business practices and discourses. The thesis is situated in a contemporary era of ‘responsible capitalism’, during which corporations have extensively taken up duties to generate socio-economic development for people, to protect and save the environment and to guard human rights. With empirical studies from the UN General Assembly and Tanzania, it analyses previously overlooked political and interest-driven forms of agency towards responsible business that unite states across the Global South. With its three essays, it describes how states contest, instrumentalize and negotiate practices and discourses of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The essays add three forms of Global South approaches to previous literature on CSR and governments: internationally aligned political contestation, instrumental rent-seeking and boundary work.
Jointly the essays show that Global South states tend to build an image of sovereign power fighting corporate exploitation by the Global North and to pursue a joint political agenda on global level around that image, but that they are at the same time keen to reap rents and material benefits from CSR. The political agenda entails calls for a stronger commitment to state sovereignty and national development plans, as well as resource, skills and technological transfer and robust accountability mechanisms in the actual practice of CSR partnerships. It is pursued in the UN by the Global South’s Group of 77 (G77) and on national level by governments such as Tanzania that traditionally build legitimacy by opposing foreign exploitation. This agenda is not just empty words nor a guarantor of justice to all. It is realised through the use of economic, juridical and cultural power to mark boundaries towards foreign investors when CSR is negotiated. It is also realised through the creation of policies to generate and manage rents from CSR-related resource flows. These rents are important especially for states that are heavily dependent on external resources for state-building. Rents from CSR-related resource flows can be used to support local economic development, or more problematically, for private gain.
The thesis engages with a broad spectrum of theoretical approaches deriving from the disciplines of management and organisation, political economy, political sociology, and African politics, and combines both structuralist and post-structuralist approaches to CSR, states, and power. It engages especially with the concepts of agonistic pluralism (Mouffe 2009, 2013), extraversion (Bayart 2000, 2009), political settlement (Khan 2000, 2010, 2018) and boundary work (Mitchell 1991, 1999).
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
  • den Hond, Frank, Degree supervisor
  • Fougère, Martin, Thesis supervisor
Award date22.09.2023
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-952-232-497-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-232-498-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • 512 Business and Management
  • CSR
  • Global South
  • states
  • government

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising


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