Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 90, Supplement 1, pp 91–116 | Cite as

Oil Extraction and Poverty Reduction in the Niger Delta: A Critical Examination of Partnership Initiatives



The combination of corporate-community conflicts and oil transnational corporations’ (TNCs) rhetoric about being socially responsible has meant that the issue of community development and poverty reduction have recently moved from the periphery to the heart of strategic business thinking within the Nigerian oil industry. As a result, oil TNCs have increasingly responded to this challenge by adopting partnership strategies as a means to contribute to poverty reductions in their host communities as well as secure their social licence to operate. This paper critically examines the strengths and weaknesses of the different community development partnership (CDPs) initiatives employed by Shell, Exxon Mobil and Total to contribute to poverty reduction within their host communities in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Drawing on empirical data and critical analysis, the paper argues that while the CDP initiatives by SPDC, MPN and EPNL have the potential to contribute to community development, the failure to integrate negative injunction duties into existing partnerships means that the partnerships make no difference to how oil TNCs conduct their core business operation. Consequently, CDPs have had limited positive impact on poverty reduction in the Niger Delta. The paper concludes by examining the implications of the emerging issues for partnership and poverty reduction.


development poverty reduction partnerships Shell Exxon Mobil Total 



The author would like to thank Lenny Baer of Lancaster University for reading a revised version of this paper. I also wish to express my appreciation to Darryl Reed and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and structural suggestion to strengthen the paper. The author would also like to thank Peter Lund-Thomsen and Peter Utting for invitation to participate at the CSB/UNRISD/ReNED workshop on Public–Private Partnership in Copenhagen, 15 August 2006 where some of the ideas were originally presented. Of course, all the usual disclaimers apply.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Social Science, 307 Founders CollegeYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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