Shell Nigeria’s Global Memorandum of understanding and corporate-community accountability relations: A critical appraisal

Osamuyimen Egbon, Uwafiokun Idemudia, Kenneth Amaeshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study seeks to examine whether Shell Nigeria’s Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) promotes corporate-community accountability as a basis for fostering sustainable community development in the Niger Delta.

Design/methodology/approach: Shell Nigeria’s GMoU stand-alone reports were analysed through the lenses of accountability and transparency theoretical frameworks to explore the extent to which GMoU, as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, is dialogically embedded and practised. Meaning-oriented content analysis was deductively used to isolate pertinent themes and generate findings from the background theoretical literature.

Findings: We find that Shell discursively appropriates the meaning of accountability and transparency in a manner that allows it to maintain its social legitimacy and the asymmetric power relations between itself and host communities whilst restricting communities’ agency to hold it accountable. Shell does this by interpreting the notion of participation restrictively, selectively deploying the concept of transparency and accountability, and subtly exerting excessive control over the GMoU. Thus, the GMoU’s potential to contribute to sustainable community development and positive corporate-community relation is unlikely tenable.

Originality/value: Accountability and transparency are core and critical to corporate-community relations and for achieving community development CSR objectives, but are often taken for granted or ignored in the CSR literature on the Niger Delta of Nigeria. This paper addresses this gap in the literature by using accountability and transparency lenses to unpick GMoU model and contribute to studies on CSR practices by oil MNCs in developing countries. Indeed, the use of these lenses to explore CSR process offers new insights as to why CSR practices have failed to contribute to sustainable community development despite increased community spending by oil MNCs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberAAAJ-04-2016-2531.R1
Pages (from-to)51-74
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • CSR/GMoU
  • Niger Delta communities
  • corporate-community relations
  • accountability/transparency
  • Shell
  • engagement/dialogue


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