Corporate accountability to the poor? Assessing the effectiveness of community-based strategies

This paper investigates how, why, and when community-based strategies are effective in promoting corporate accountability (CA) to the poor. It argues that mainstream approaches to corporate social responsibility (CSR) underestimate the importance of power in the relationship between corporations and the communities in which they invest, which limits their applicability to many developing country contexts in particular. In addressing this neglect, the article draws on literatures on power, accountability, and citizen participation in order to analyse 46 cases where communities have attempted to hold corporations to account for their social and environmental responsibilities. The paper argues that more attention should be paid to a number of state-, corporation-, and community-related factors, which are found to be key to the effectiveness of strategies aimed at enhancing CA to the poor.