Geographies of Corporate Practice in Development: Contested Capitalism and Encounters

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Environmental Studies



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The role of corporations in the Global South remains largely understudied in Development Geography, and yet in the last dec­ade, corporate actors increasingly integrate social, environment and development challenges in their business strategies, coupled with claims that such approaches minimize ecological impacts, improve lives and livelihoods and/or eradicate poverty (Prahalad and Hammond , 2002; Hart, 2005; Kandachar and Halme, 2008). While corporate entanglements with and influence over the devel­opment process have been documented by social scientists (Bond , 2008; Ferguson, 2005; Harvey, 2006; Hibou, 2004; O'Laughlin, 2008), a gap remains in scholarly work critically interrogating the meaning, practices and outcomes of corporate activities that couple growth and profit-led commercial goals with claims to improving lives of vulnerable communities. The geographical per­spective adds an understanding of the places and narratives of cor­porate practice, both in the micro-politics of everyday engagements and in associated macro level changes across differ­ent scales of engagement. This approach allows for more nuanced interpretations of how various actors engage. contest or provide alternatives to corporate interventions in the development process. This is particularly important in a wider public policy context, which has been increasingly characterized by a turn to market­ based approaches, replacing the so-called dirigiste and state-inter­ventionist approaches more prevalent in the twentieth century. This themed issue seeks to contribute to an emergent critical geo­ graphical literature examining corporations' language of "social responsibility" and "sustainability", and their associated practices purporting to meet commercial, development and environmental aims - the so-called "triple bottom line".


Published as:
Thieme, Tatiana A., Heather Plumridge Bedi, and Bhaskar Vira. "Geographies of Corporate Practice in Development: Contested Capitalism and Encounters." Geoforum 59 (2015): 215-18.

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