Public–private–community partnerships: A case of unilever’s corporate social responsibility in Surabaya, Indonesia / Nurul Isnaeni

Nurul Isnaeni, - (2016) Public–private–community partnerships: A case of unilever’s corporate social responsibility in Surabaya, Indonesia / Nurul Isnaeni. PhD thesis, University of Malaya.

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    The intricate linkages between economic globalization and global environmental degradation place multinational companies (Multinationals/ MNCs) as one of the key players in promoting sustainable development, an alternative development paradigm that reconciles the competing interests of economic growth, environmental protection and social welfare. ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) has recently come up as a common practice of MNCs’ world-wide to demonstrate commitment towards becoming more socially and environmentally responsible in their business practices. Taking the case of Unilever’s Green CSR Program in Surabaya (2001 – 2010), this study aims to gain a better understanding about the reality of Unilever’s Green CSR practices in the Indonesian local setting. Although the term ‘CSR’ has gained popularity among business, academic and NGO communities in Indonesia, there is still a gap between how CSR is carried out and the ideal norms of CSR based on international standards. Currently CSR tends to be merely associated with community development and public relations programs, instead of being positioned in a more strategic and sustainable projects that potentially have far-reaching implications. This study applies a qualitative research approach with case study and process-tracing methods. These methods are deemed to be well-suited to explore the complexities and peculiarities of the phenomenon being studied. The use of this approach is essential to better understand the realities, particularly in regards to the critical question of whether Unilever has moved beyond ‘business case’ CSR practices. Rich qualitative data resulting from in- depth interviews with key stakeholders and direct observations made in the related sites in Surabaya have not only enabled this study to achieve its objectives but also uncover the undisclosed facts and informal realities about the overall process and achievements iv related to Unilever’s Green CSR Program in Surabaya. The findings in this study show that Unilever is not the only actor that contributed to the achievement of the community-based waste management program. Instead, it should be acknowledged that as a result of its engagement with the local Surabaya City government and media (Jawa Pos). Unilever has successfully initiated the establishment of an ‘environmental cadre network’ and a competition-based mechanism for wider public participation to promote a greener and cleaner Surabaya. In short, this study has shown that a multi stakeholders partnership has proven to be a strategic instrument for MNCs to effectively implement CSR programs dealing with complex and controversial public issues like the environment. Nevertheless, the local context is equally important to take into consideration in order to fully appreciate the role of social capital and the quality of public institutions. Ultimately, along with increasing civil society participation and increasing awareness of private (business) sectors to promote sustainable development, it is the responsibility of the government to better perform its function in facilitating and enabling good environmental governance, particularly in environmental law making and enforcement in order to govern sustainability for the well being of society and the environment. Finally, as the theoretical contribution of this study to the advancement of knowledge, we can say that sustainable development needs a ‘transformational partnership’ in which actors across sectors engaged in collaborative action to develop a new governance mechanism and transform the logic of sustainability into practicality with the full support of media so that shared values, norms and objectives are embedded in the process and the ultimate goal. This kind of partnership goes beyond a matter of benefit and risk-sharing process and the actors engaged also do not take the partnership itself as a project an sich.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Additional Information: Thesis (PhD) – Asia Europe Institute, University of Malaya, 2016.
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Economic growth; Environmental protection; Social welfare; Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR)
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    Divisions: Asia- Europe Institute
    Depositing User: Mrs Nur Aqilah Paing
    Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2017 17:56
    Last Modified: 23 Oct 2019 08:35

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