In this paper the author takes a ‘political settlements’ approach to examining the political effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in developing countries. The political settlements approach uses an integrated understanding of politics, power and institutional forms to explain how, given different political processes and incentives, the same institutional forms can produce different economic and developmental outcomes. The author applies this lens to the CSR practices of large mining companies in developing countries, examining their impacts on local and national political settlements using the Zambian metals mining sector as a case study. Directly, CSR features little in the national debate on natural resource governance in Zambia but local CSR activity is considerable.The author finds that the CSR practices of large metals mining companies influence the governance of extraction and the possibility of inclusive development with notable consequences for institutions of traditional leadership. The resulting pattern of inclusion and development is argued to result from the interaction of two processes - elite bargaining and coalitions within exclusionary political settlements on the one hand, and CSR practices shaped by risk management on the other. The author concludes by arguing that political settlements literature offers a rich seam for future research in the extractive sector if its limitations are addressed.
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