Managing sustainable development through people: Implications for multinational enterprises in developing countries

Aloysius Newenham-Kahindi (Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 7 April 2015



The purpose of this paper is to attempt to answer specific research questions by investigating two case studies which involve large global mining multinational enterprises (MNEs) and how they implement sustainable development programs across rural communities in Tanzania. The author specifically examines how MNEs use internal stakeholders that is employees, as intermediaries, to influence external stakeholders, the local communities, to address social problems.


The author uses an exploratory research method which involves MNEs and 18 communities in western Tanzania as the cases. Semi-structured interviews, observation and the use of relevant archival documents was used to collect data.


This study suggests that, if MNEs are to leverage sustainability initiatives in rural communities, they must consider implementing a locally oriented strategy in their overall business activities that incorporates meaningful engagement initiatives with their employees and with the communities.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the study was limited to one country, the results point to the importance of incorporating the role of community institutional environments’ influence over MNEs sustainability activities which could be generalized to other developing countries such as the case study of Tanzania.


This paper contributes to the nascent but growing literature on the role of business in the community, how employees as intermediaries facilitate effective CSR in communities, and the overall impact of community institutional environment on businesses. The author provides some practical policy implications related to MNE-community relationships in developing countries.



The authors would like to thank the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) for providing guidance and information on mining activities in Tanzania. This Research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC – Grant No. 410-2011-2691).


Newenham-Kahindi, A. (2015), "Managing sustainable development through people: Implications for multinational enterprises in developing countries", Personnel Review, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 388-407.

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