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Open access

Bringing the state back in

Corporate social responsibility and the paradoxes of Norwegian state capitalism in the international energy sector

Ståle Knudsen, Dinah Rajak, Siri Lange, and Isabelle Hugøy

Abstract

This theme section brings the state back into anthropological studies of corporate social responsibility through the lens of Norwegian energy corporations working abroad. These transnational corporations (TNCs) are expected by the government to act responsibly when “going global.” Yet, we have observed that abroad, Norwegian corporations backed by state capital largely operate like any other TNCs. We argue that the driver for the adaptation to global capitalism is not coming from the embracing of neoliberal policies in Norway, but is rather inherent to the ways internationalization of the Norwegian economy is unfolding. To the extent that the Norwegian state has an impact on the corporations’ international endeavors, it relates primarily to the imperative of managing Norway's reputation as a humanitarian superpower.

Open access

Standardizing responsibility through the stakeholder figure

Norwegian hydropower in Turkey

Ståle Knudsen, Ingrid Birce Müftüoğlu, and Isabelle Hugøy

Abstract

Through a multi-sited study of the Norwegian state-owned renewable energy corporation Statkraft, this article explores how the increasing embedding of corporate social responsibility in international guidelines impacts the way responsibility is handled when large energy corporations operate overseas. Focusing on one of Statkraft's projects in Turkey, we detail how standards are used to guide both operations in the field and external reporting, in the process distancing the corporation from its Norwegian origin. We argue that the application of standards results in much less standardization than is often assumed. “Stories” become as important for reporting as standards, and the elusive figure of the “stakeholder” plays an important role in holding together the heterogeneous field of corporate responsibility.