Normative spaces and the UN Global Compact for transnational corporations: the norm diffusion paradox

  • Nathan AndrewsEmail author


Regime theorists argue that international regimes and institutions are based on principles, norms and decision-making procedures that constitute a set of patterned behaviours around which expectations converge. The notion of these institutionalised ‘logics of appropriateness’ has led to the proliferation of many global norms, such as the UN Global Compact, that are considered to govern the practices of multinational corporations in the extractive sector. The key question that this paper asks is, to what extent is the UN Global Compact influencing the behaviour of mining companies in Ghana — particularly the social responsibility performance of Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd and Chirano Gold Mines Ltd.? Since the existing global CSR norms thrive mainly on voluntary subscription and compliance, the overall objective of this paper is to underscore the paradox of putting a widely acclaimed arrangement such as the Global Compact into practice and its implications for the livelihoods of expected ‘norm beneficiaries’. The goal is to contribute to the literature on the nature and rationale of CSR in Ghana, as well as to improve our understanding of localised diffusion and contestations of global norms.


CSR Ghana global norms mining communities norm diffusion UN Global Compact 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2014 International Studies Association annual convention in Toronto. It was subsequently submitted to and shortlisted for the Kari Polanyi Levitt Prize for the best student paper in international development, and therefore presented at the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development annual conference at Brock University in May 2014. My appreciation goes to the participants of these two conferences for their thoughtful comments. My gratitude goes to Joanna Harrington, Rob Aitken, Janine Brodie, the editors and two anonymous reviewers of this journal for feedback on earlier drafts. I am grateful to my research participants in several communities in Ghana whose insights have made this paper possible. I also acknowledge the financial support provided by both the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation (Doctoral Scholarship, 2012–2015) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Vanier Scholarship, 2012–2015) to complete this research in a timely fashion.


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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