Multinational Corporations and Human Right Violations in Emerging Economies: Do Commitment to CSR and Sustainability Matter?

  • Kweku Adams (Speaker)
  • Subhan Ullah (Speaker)
  • Dawda Adams (Speaker)
  • Rexford Attah-Boakye (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The surge in economic growth in the global-north vis-a-vis social and economic inequalities in the global-south (north-south dichotomy) has led to critical research and policy implications for human right considerations in emerging economies. This paper draws on the convergence and institutional theories to
understand how and the extent to which these theories motivate multinational corporation’s (MNCs) capitalist ideologies to fulfil their profit maximisation agenda; how and the extent to which these together produce human right violations in emerging economies. Using multiple data sources from the Human
Rights Watch, our study provides a comprehensive list of various human right violations committed by MNCs in emerging economies from 2002 - 2017. We examine the reasons why our sample MNCs are involved in such scandals of inhuman practices and offer avenues for future research. Our study
uncovered 273 violations committed by 160 MNCs mostly from developed countries. MNCs originating from the most advanced countries have the highest human right violations. Specifically, UK has 20 companies with 61 human right violations compared to the USA with 68 companies and 88 human right
violations. In relative terms, this makes MNCs from the UK the leading human rights violators according to the data followed by USA and Australia. Our detailed analysis of firm-specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethics related compliance reveals that majority of the MNCs in our sample have approached CSR and sustainability-related compliance more symbolically. More than 90% of our sample firms have CSR/sustainability committees, are signatories to the UN Global Compact, and have reported compliance with International Labour Organization (ILO). This raises questions about the effectiveness of
these programmes. This study bridges the gap between the efficiency and internalisation hypothesis to co-exist with fundamental principles of justice and fairness. We present the sources of conflicts between efficiency and social justice and propose the implementation of relevant policies aimed at encouraging
self-regulatory instruments that bring organisational behaviour into greater alignment with human rights. We contribute to the CSR/sustainability literature by providing new insights about the nature and location of human right abuses committed by MNCs.
Period6 Aug 2019
Event titleAIB Africa Conference 2019
Event typeConference
LocationKumasi, GhanaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational