The purpose of this paper is to provide an explanation for the global influences and dynamics that have led major mining companies to adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies, and frame them in terms of sustainable development. Bad reputations stemming from environmental disasters and social disharmony led mining multinationals to adopt CSR policies and improve their practices. Rationalist expectations about what is driving firm responses to external pressures are a necessary, but insufficient, explanation of how and why mining companies have sought to improve their reputations. Three elements are necessary to explain firm responses, including strategic adaptation to external pressures, learning processes associated with CSR, and internalization of sustainable development norms, understood as standards of appropriate behavior.
The paper presents a multidisciplinary theoretical framework for explaining the adoption of CSR policies and practices on the part of mining companies, and applies that framework to case studies of two major mining companies with global operations.
An account of learning processes and norms socialization as they relate to CSR provide a more comprehensive explanation of how and why mining companies adopt CSR policies. Incorporation of these elements provides a better explanation of why mining companies began to frame their CSR policies in terms of the global norm of sustainable development.
The paper contributes to the theoretical understanding of how and why firms adapt to changing societal expectations about appropriate corporate behavior by integrating two sets of literatures; constructivism from international relations theory, and learning from organization theory.
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