Canada, Constitutional Law, Government, History, Human Rights, Law, Nigeria, Politics, Public Relations, Social Justice, Social Responsibility, Sociology, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized


This memorandum was submitted and admitted as one of the memoranda complied at the 2005 National Conference in Nigeria, it had been written a few years before. It was first published in a Nigerian National Daily Newspaper on the 29th June 2005. The intention behind this memo was to solve one of Nigeria’s recurring political decimal, which could also be applied at other levels of Government.

Find below a re-production of the article:



By Bernie Omatsola Grant

Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 


The Bi-Triangular system is a system of rotation of the presidency of the Nigerian Federation (subsequently referred to as the Federation) that takes cognisance of the principle of equity, equality, fairness and justice. This concept is a system that is established on cultural, historical, political and inter-ethnic foundations and realities of the Federation.

It is based on the six geo-political zones/regions taking into cognisance the foundation of the federation, which was built on the North and the South and further recognizing the various blocks that exist within the two major areas of the Federation.


This system makes use of imagery, i.e. we are to imagine two triangles, each super imposed, one on Northern Nigeria and the second on Southern Nigeria.

Based on this formula, the presidency of the federation should be rotated.


The system should firstly rotate between Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria and vice versa every five years. Then the three zones in each region would also rotate the office when it comes to the turn of that region, based on the six zones of North-West,   North East, North-Central, South-West, South-East and South-South. For example, the South West, it can be said has it at present.

It will then be the turn of the North at the next change of power, then the decision of which zone gets it would be made, presumably   North-East. Then when it rotates back to the South, the South-West would be out of contention for the position (i.e. knocked out)   and a decision as to which of the remaining two zones of South-East and South-South would be made. Then when it goes back to the North, a decision as to which of the zones, apart from North-East, would get the next slot either North-West or North-Central,   let’s say North-Central. Then when it is the South’s turn, if we say the South-East had it the last time, then the South-South would   produce the next President. When it would be the North’s turn, naturally North-west would get it. (This line-up/set-up should not be taken as conclusive; it is left for Nigerians to decide).

A sort of time-table would have been created starting with the South-West, North-East, South-East, North-Central, South-South, North-West, whereby on the expiration of every zone’s tenure, the South-West would again start the process.

This creates equity, continuity, unity, stability and sustenance of the Federation and final death knell to the Political Power Problem (P.P.P) in Nigeria. 


For this system, to succeed and be lasting.

For there to be a reduction or total elimination of cries/fear of marginalisation, which leads to the unnecessary bickering and hunger for power.

For there to be an avenue to solving the problem of alleged power imbalance i.e. the power riddle.

Some fundamentals have to be entrenched into the constitution of the Federation, i.e. be the Nation’s grundnorm, namely;

1) Five (5) year single term for the office of the president of the Federation.

2) Rotational Presidency along six Geo-political Zones

3) Six (6) Geo-political zones should be entrenched into the constitution, so there would be no tampering or altering.


1) On implementation, this system would solve the minority question in Nigeria. Thereby creating a real sense of equality and equity.

2) The system would also create a true sense of belonging. Every section of the Federation would feel they were true stakeholders, with a right to the highest office in the Land (as of right), as entrenched in the constitution.

3) This system would also to a large extent solve the issue of military incursion into the governance of the Federation, whereby a time-table of sorts would have been created and no section of the federation would reasonably want to tamper with the time-table, as this will disrupt or permanently impede their progression to the office.

4) The (5) year single term is a necessity for various reasons:

a) It would ensure a complete rotation in thirty (30) years, when the circle/ rotation would start again. This would save us the situation, where we now find ourselves still searching, after forty-four (44) years.

b) It would also solve the desperate tendency of Incumbents wanting to retain power at all costs, which would further divide and impoverish the country, i.e. treat/ address more dissent.

5) This rotational system has been used, to favourable results in Canada, one of the present world’s solid, enduring and formidable democracies. This is a country that has two main divisions/blocs, the English side and the French side. In spite of this, they have been able to establish themselves as a leader in the comity of Nations of the World. The recent hand-over/rotation of power from Jean Chretien (a French Canadian) to Todd Martin (an English Canadian), shows the magnanimity, sense of equality and unity of the people of Canada, devoid of/ without any bitterness, rancour or cheating.

6) Adoption of this system would create a solid foundation for Nigeria to build upon and if truly implemented with all sense of   fairness, would make Nigeria a great example to emulate, especially within Africa, then to the world.

7) This system would allow the Federation to solve its Political Power Problem (P.P.P) and enable the country and its leaders to concentrate on nation building i.e. improving the economy and standard of living of the citizens, without distractions.

8) if we are to accept that Nigeria is made up of over a Hundred tribes/ethnic groups, dividing ascendancy to the office of President among six major blocs/zones, should not be a problem and should be seen as a way of creating a Nigerian style democracy that respects its uniqueness and cultural/tribal proliferation, all for the love of our country, Nigeria.’

Business, CSR, Economy, Human Rights, Law, Nigeria, Poverty, Social Justice, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized

Privatisation vs. Commercialisation – The Sustainability Issue.

Developing country rules are different from established developed country rules, this is due to various factors which include, but not limited to poverty, lack of institutionalised processes, corruption, nepotism, weak institutions etc.

The question has always arisen about what is the best form of economic model to adopt in running Government enterprises, ‘Privatisation’ or ‘Commercialisation’ (especially in light of government failures in running enterprises in developing countries). The phrase “government enterprises’’ explains itself, it means a government-sponsored business activity, such as a public utility. It is an enterprise set up by the government for the provision of goods and services, for the benefit of the people. The writer has always advocated for any other model except privatisation, for developing countries.

Privatisation as a model elicits selling government enterprises to private business concerns, usually owned by very rich individuals, who are mostly motivated by profit, at the expense of the people in the country. The arguments for privatisation include that the companies would be better run, provide jobs to the benefit of the society. Inspite of the stated reasons, from hindsight, these are not enough reasons for the case, in under-developed countries. In a country with weak institutions, how do you control unbridled capitalist tendencies i.e excessive increase in prices of goods and services. America cannot be compared with Nigeria, esp when comparing GDP and minimum wage issues.

It is the opinion of the writer that the model of commercialisation as adopted in the U.K, is better for developing countries to adopt.

What is Commercialisation, in this context? Commercialization is a system of leasing out govt enterprises for a few years to the best and most capable hands. This is a better model, in the sense that government enterprises still belong to the state and those holding the leases would not take permanent control which would give them a sense of superiority, which could lead to them riding roughshod over the populace. Commercialisation is more advantageous because it can help governments protect the people by getting a better deal for the people at the expiration of a lease, before the renewal of another. Developing countries rarely learn from second hand experience i.e experience of other countries. Russia and Britain have experienced both models and have totally rejected privatisation. One of the advantages of commercialisation of government enterprises is education and technology acquisition, upgrading standards, learning new work ethics and management cultures and skills acquisition. These are important because the major problems with government enterprises, in developing countries, is motivation and job satisfaction which is lacking in most cases. Inculcating a new mind-set is fundamental to a developing country’s progress. Inevitably, this would lead to a more sustainable economic environment where both the country and people can benefit. Instead of a privatised system that creates oligarchs (a new level of super-rich) which goes against the new ethos in the world which is bridging the gap between the rich and the poor by creating a more solid middle class. It has always been the view of the writer that those who profess privatisation as a system, lack adequate understanding of sociology, motivational psychology, political philosophy and positive socio-economic theories that hinge on socio-capitalist initiatives such as social welfare, CSR and community development in a protected and better monitored environment.

It should be noted that governments that privatise their enterprises give control of their economies over to private individuals and when this happens, chaos would be the end result, because this erodes democratic ideals, where the people lose the right to run/ decide their economic destiny, because those elected lack the power to implement the people’s wishes. So the real power would reside in the owners of factors of production/ the commonwealth. If the government controlled its own enterprises and partook in the same economic environment as privately run companies, this would create competition which could spur a rejuvenation of government enterprises and the government could control prices of its goods and services which would also have an effect on prices in society, which could defeat any cartel arrangement in fixing prices to the benefit of the cartel.

In short the espoused phrase of ‘Government having no business in business’ is totally flawed and wrong for developing countries. It can even be said to be wrong also for developed nations in light of the recession of the 2007-8, where due to the collapse of major enterprises, the governments of USA and UK not only gave out bailout funds, but even bought stakes in some banks in the UK, as well. This is the result of unbridled capitalism.

It should also be noted that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is different from Indigenous Privatization of Government enterprises and the excuse of the issue of frustration of FDI initiatives, such as the Richard Branson’s debacle in Virgin Nigeria (Note: Not Virgin Atlantic business in Nigeria) should not be used as a yardstick for privatization in Nigeria. When individuals own all the companies in a developing country, no one can hold them back from maximising profit, over public interest. To whose detriment is this? Answer: the people, citizens and consumers.

Can this bring about sustainable progress/ development for the majority or only for a few?

Branding, Human Rights, Law, Media, Politics, Public Relations, Social Justice, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development, Trump

The Trump Phenomenon (The P.R angle) – by Socio-Capitalist

In the words of Barack Obama, ‘the election (Trump’s victory) is probably the biggest political upset in the history of the American elections’.

The recent election in the USA, which threw up the eccentric billionaire Donald Trump as President has shown and established the current wind of Nationalism, just as Brexit, sweeping the western world. The recent campaigns leading towards the USA elections was so harrowing that it was described as the most toxic in contemporary history.

What is the Trump phenomenon? This is a nationalist fervour towards the rise of America (i.e. America first) over the ideas of globalization and liberalism, which has seen the USA lose some ground.

Issues/ analysis:

In the words of Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom “It is clear that the forces of liberalization & globalisation, which have ravaged countries like U.S, U.K and France, have left a lot of people behind.”

A lesson that could be learnt from this election is that the world of America does not start and end in the urban jungles of LA, Manhattan, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago.

It is an established fact that in contemporary politics, majority of the voters go to the polls based on one major issue which the writer refers to as the ‘ONE ISSUE DOCTRINE’ in politics. In this case either the economy or immigration (or both) trumped everything else.

The Trump phenomenon could be attributed to a large chunk of America being forgotten i.e. Middle America, where most of the states voted Trump. The Obama Presidency and the Hillary attempt at the presidency was characterized by the term ‘Coastal Elites’ (a group of powerful and rich people) who inhabit the cities & towns along the American coast line to the detriment of a lot of Americans in the hinterlands. These coastal elites drew the narrative for the Hillary attempt and it was clear that they were not in touch with the real feelings and desires of the majority of the Americans in the south, mid-west and west of the USA.

What the Trump victory and the Brexit vote in the UK have proven, is that when a people are patriotic to their country and are more enlightened about the central and most serious issues that concern them as a nation. No amount of rhetoric or media hype would derail/ distract them or make them lose focus.

There was so much negativity towards Trump in the media, which is unhealthy for any country, especially a developed one like the USA. The assault on him was unrelenting. Why! It seemed the media had already taken a stance in the election.

The Trump phenomenon defied all logic. No matter what was thrown at Trump, it all seemed to bounce off; he was just the quintessential ‘Teflon Don’ (bullet-proof, in local parlance).

The issue with this election was the stark contrast between opposing views (there was little middle ground).

Issues that propped up included:

  • Globalisation vs. Nationalism
  • Conservatism vs. Liberalism
  • Economic Prosperity vs. Morality/ Good Character
  • Poor America vs. Rich America
  • The People vs The Elites
  • Rural America vs. Urban America
  • Reality vs. Façade

Why did Trump win? The P.R angles:

In PR context, messages are sent, delivered and feedback interpreted. The clarity of Trump’s messages was one of the reasons that worked for him. He spoke on the real issues affecting majority of the people i.e. the Economy, Immigration. His mantra “make America great again” struck a cord with the people. Even his not too nice statements/ description of his opponents such as ‘Little Marco’, ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘Lying Ted’ went straight to the point without need for further explanation. He spoke in the language that his audience (ordinary people) understood (without regard to political correctness). To be honest, Political Correctness was never part of the American culture, Americans are known to ‘say it as, it is’, and this was exhibited by brutal frankness on the part of Trump.

Trump connected with the average American (his target audience/ voters), not the foreigners.

In order for Trump to get his message out, social media platforms e.g Twitter and small internet based media outfits were used to maximum effect (much like Obama’s use of Facebook in 2008). The Trump campaign strategy was to use earned-media coverage to remain in the spotlight and cut costs, which led to a spending of about half of what the Clinton campaign spent on advertisement.

Trump represented someone who could bring prosperity and reclaim the real identity of the USA, which was more important than political correctness, nice talk, Affordable Health Care Act, gay marriage, globalisation and climate change.

Trump represented a rejection of the establishment and politicians, a breath of fresh air into the politics of the USA. If a hungry man is an angry man, it can be said that majority of the states in the USA were angry and their anger has led to the removal of the establishment in the two major parties. The Don was just the tool. While on their part Hillary’s campaign, according to the Huffington Post, suffered from a sense of neglect and arrogance. This was said to have come from her staff. In summation, citizens of other nations should not claim to know more than the inhabitants of those nations about the peculiarities of those nations.

For those aspiring to leadership, in particular, never judge a country by only an assessment of urban areas or cities, to the detriment of those in the rural areas; continuation down this path, leads to peril. The major issue here is that Hillary lost traditionally Democratic states, this says a lot about the actions and strategy of the Democrats (there must have been something wrong, for the Democrats to lose both the Senate and the House of Representatives).

What was the major motivation of the people? Was it the love of Trump or the dislike/ disdain of Hillary? Rather it was an affirmation of the assumption that majority of the people in the states in middle and rural America felt forgotten and left out. Secondly, that the establishment had failed them in different ways i.e. reduction in living standards, huge debts, business closures and loss of jobs (this was the reality).

Donald represented those who wanted to take back their country i.e. about the real identity of America and economic prosperity. Here is a man who broke most of the stereotypes of a candidate for the White House. Trump broke all convention wisdom/ principles for political campaign strategies. i.e being a divorcee. A lot of candidates who have tried 10% of what the Don was alleged to have said or done, have had their political careers stopped abruptly. Yet this did not de-motivate his voters. Quite unconventional.


In 2006, the Writer in an article titled ‘Youth and Democracy’, outlined the role of youths in a democratic dispensation. The first is Vigilance & Advocacy, Secondly, Participate by observing their civic responsibility of voting and being voting for. Finally after the elections, exhibiting sport manly camaraderie by accepting the results, except there are clear cases of irregularities.

The current situation in the USA, where a candidate that invokes strong feelings, won the elections and the youth are incited to take to the streets, without rebuke from the losing side, is most disheartening to democratic ideals, especially when it is coming from the standard bearer of Democracy in the world today.

The protesters against the Trump victory are setting a bad precedent which could heighten tensions and could boomerang against them in the future. It is a sad commentary on American politics, when a losing side cannot observe some tolerance to accept the result of an election.

If the USA is to be the Big Brother of the world, it should act in the best possible way by showing good example. If Obama’s election did not elicit such protest, then why should Trump’s election?

The election of both Trump & Obama highlights the beauty of democracy, where majority carries the vote and anyone can get to the highest position, if they can reach out to the majority. Rural vs. Urban America (8 years ago, Obama was the majority. Today it is Trump). The writer had always advised, after the victory of Obama 8 years ago, for society to be wary of the pendulum swinging from the left which Obama represented, to the right which Trump represents.

It is to my understanding that the famous phrase in the USA is ‘anyone can become President in America’ and ‘anyone can become anything they want to be in America’. It should be noted that there are no clauses to the phrases e.g. ‘you cannot be, president if you make politically incorrect statements’.

Political maturity, which the No 1 nation in the world is supposed to represent, should show direction to other less-developed nations of the world, how not to protest a fairly conducted election, and to eschew violence and accept verdicts of elections that go against their party/ candidate. What does this say about minorities and the fairer sex, when the first time in living memory/ contemporary history that a well conducted election would be protested by a losing side is when a black man is president and a woman lost the election? Leaders should heal a nation after elections, and not lay landmines in the way of the incoming Government. What sort of example is this to less-developed nations?

If America is the land of freedom and worship, where is the respect for the conservatives now (it should be noted that respect is a two way street), quite ironical. Those who voted for Trump and Brexit should be given some credit and respect; they are entitled to their own decisions, as well. This was a democratic process that was carried out and people should respect that unless there is more to the protests, than meets the eye.

In conclusion, It should be noted that from various perspectives (philosophical, sociological and cultural), Great and developed countries in today’s world re-invent themselves through the democratic process every 4, 5, 8 or 10 years. Therefore America should be allowed to go through the process. It is the opinion of the writer that the disgruntled members of the pro-Hillary camp should snap out of their spell and accept reality that someone else won the election i.e. there is a new sheriff in town. No side wins all the time, you win some, and you lose some. Just respect the process. This is the beauty of Democracy.

In the words of Marine LePen, the leader of the National Front Party of France, the election of Trump “is a new dawn in a great movement sweeping the world”.

Business, CSR, Dangote, Human Rights, Law, Nigeria, OXFAM, Poverty, Public Relations, Social Justice, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized, Warren Buffet

Injustice and Inequity: the Bane of Under-Developed Nations. (Nigeria as a case study)

‘For the same reason that a Dangote is great, is the same reason why underdevelopment persists in third world countries.’

Why in the midst of so much riches, is a society so poor? There are a few reasons – inadequate distribution of resources, corruption, insincerity and the prevalence of an individualistic nature.

Inequality has become a global phenomenon, in today’s world, but it is a lot worse in developing nations, where there exists various forms of cultural, political, social, legal and economic imbalance and injustice.

The writer has on numerous occasion attempted to enlighten at various fora, the unnecessary nature of having too much in an under-developed nation. Why should one man have over 10 billion dollars, in a country, where some cannot even afford to feed on 1 dollar a day. It is the belief of the writer that no man should aspire to over 1 billion dollars, if their society is bereft with poverty and under-development. The logic behind this is that the more a man takes out of an under-developed environment/ market, the less for the people of the country.

This would somewhat explain the philanthropic nature of billionaires in more developed climes e.g Warren Buffet. These set of men understand the essence of money and money-making. In better climes, there is something extra to having money. Developed and more enlightened societies develop strategies and systems that instil a sense of responsibility on the rich e.g through charitable organisations like OXFAM or by the rich setting up their own foundations e.g Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This sends a message, which is you are only a temporary custodian of the monies in your possession and bestows some responsibility on the holder of such monies to be more communal and charitable in his or her actions.

In contrast, what is found in underdeveloped nations, is a set of people (Elite and the Rich), who believe that society owes them indefinitely. They possess a megalomaniac disposition, imbued with an over-bloated ego of self-importance, almost feudalistic in nature, to the detriment of the society around them. A set of people, who are on a one-way track of constantly stripping the society and the environment of its resources, without giving anything back. If this is not wicked, I do not know what the word means.

In a business or capitalist environment, there is nothing wrong in healthy competition amongst entrepreneurs, but when that need for capitalist competition begins to hurt society, then it is wrong and we should know when to draw the line. It is this sort of unbridled money-making, without any care for the society from which the money is derived, that leads to the collapse of societies and civilisation i.e. Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

It is the opinion of the writer beyond all reasonable doubt, that the cause of high corruption in the land, is based on this circumstance of injustice and inequity. The blame lies not only on Government officials, but also on the people of the nation, who have been so impoverished over the years, that they now suffer from a poverty mentality, even in the midst of riches, making the people desperate and less humane.

How do you explain the situation where banks ask their workers to meet crazy monetary generation targets (in the Billions) or they would lose their jobs? The multiplier effect on the psyche of Nigerians in this era of little or no job security, is best left unimagined. Most people will become criminals and will be encouraged to steal to meet up. Even Juju/ Obeah (Traditional Spiritual assistance) is not out of the question in this effort, of unbridled primitive acquisition of material resources.

One solution to this situation is the implementation of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Law in Nigeria, as in India. This would make it compulsory for every company that makes over a particular amount, to spend a part of its revenue on CSR. The implementation of such a law would act as a driver towards sustainable development in the society.

Why is this not prevalent in most under-developed nations?

In the words of Bob Dylan, the answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

A word is enough for the wise.

Videos on Inequality in today’s world:



Branding, CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

CSR is about looking at problems as opportunities – William D. Eggers, Deloitte

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a buzzword with the government (in India) making it mandatory for companies to spend 2% of their net profit on the social upliftment of people .

Meet Mr William D. Eggers, Research Director, Public Sector Industry, Deloitte
Bill, as he is called, is the author of eight books, including his newest, co-authored with Paul Macmillan, The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises are Teaming up to Solve Society’s Biggest Problems (Harvard Business Press, September 2013). He coined the term Government 2.0 in a book of the same name.

He is an appointee to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART) Advisory Board. Bill has advised governments around the world. He gives close to 100 speeches a year and his commentary has appeared in dozens of major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian and the Chicago Tribune.

In an interview granted to Live Mint & Wall Street Journal, Bill said if a company uses CSR activities to also promote its business, it should be applauded and not frowned upon. He feels it is not unethical to leverage on CSR activities to strengthen your brand, if the company is doing a lot to improve the environment, the company should be able to state that it is part of their core values.
Socio-Capitalist agrees with this statement, because if there is no psychological impetus/ booster or Public Relations value for companies to continue to carry out CSR activities, the pot of CSR and the benefits accruable would eventually dry up, especially if companies would be restricted from having bragging rights over positive CSR activities they have carried out.
What is your opinion?

Find below the feature of the interview:

Branding, CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Cruise Industry underperforming in CSR – Leeds Met Research Study

A new research by Leeds Metropolitan University reveals that the cruise industry isn’t going far enough in their corporate social responsibility towards the environment, society and the destinations they visit.
The study, published in April, 2014 in the journal, Tourism Management, analyses the industry’s lack of corporate social disclosure and ranks companies through analysis of their corporate social responsibility reports and websites to provide the first cruise sector sustainability reporting index.
Sixty five per cent of the 80 cruise companies worldwide which were analysed do not mention corporate social responsibility on their websites, and only 12 brands publish corporate social reports – belonging to only four companies: Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, TUI and Disney Cruises.
Dr Xavier Font, the lead author of the study from Leeds Metropolitan University explains: “Most companies report soft data, such as statements from their CEOs, that are easy to copy and do not show real change”.
The report highlights that more must be done by the cruise industry in terms of the environmental impact of cruise ship’s discharges, as cruises usually operate in highly valued coastal water and marine ecosystems. It is noted that some anti-fouling coating used to mitigate the impact contain hazardous chemicals which can be harmful to marine organism. The harm from ballast water is well recognised since 1970 when the International Maritime Organization noted the negative impact of non-indigenous organisms transported in the ballast water. Since 2004 there is a Convention for the Control and Management on Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments, but that has not entered into force due to the limited signing from states (only 33) until 2012.
Cruise ships that comply with legislation and are under international regulations may still discharge comminuted and disinfected sewage using systems approved by its flag administration at a distance of more than three nautical miles from shore. To be able to claim environmental responsibility, cruise companies should use an advanced system and use it consistently, not just depending on the jurisdiction.
The study also examined the socio-economic impact of the cruise industry and highlighted previous research which reported evidence of frequent violation rights for disadvantaged groups including charges for medical examinations, visas, transport and administration putting cruise industry workers into a level of debt that cannot be repaid and is comparable to forced labour.
It also noted that there is limited public data to sustain the claim that cruise industry contributes to the economy by creating jobs and contributing to the local economy of the destinations visited. In fact, low spend cruisers are considered unproductive given the costs incurred by their impact. Additionally earnings by the supply chain are limited, as the requirements for the cruise are complex, requiring larger number of forecasted supply. Economic factors, such as fuel consumption, are the only ones considered to select destinations, but not the impact on communities. This is especially acute in small destinations where the ratio to cruise passenger per resident is high.

CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Greenwashing – the extent to which companies meet their CSR promises depends on national attitudes to competition and individualism, according to Oxford Academic.

A new research into firms’ symbolic and substantive CSR practices has shed light on differing expectations of the role of business in society.

The assumption that corporations say one thing and do another when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not far from the truth, but just how much they follow through on their promises depends on cultural interpretations of the principles of liberal economics and the perceived role and strength of the government, says Thomas Roulet, Research Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

In a paper for the Journal of Business Ethics, Thomas Roulet and his co-author, Samuel Touboul, IPAG Business School, explored the ambiguities surrounding firms’ commitments to social and environmental initiatives. They discovered that in countries where people believed strongly in the virtues of competition, firms were more likely to practise “greenwashing” – that is, to make a lot of noise about their CSR, but to do very little. In countries where liberalism was interpreted as predominantly about individual responsibility, firms were more likely to focus on concrete actions.
Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers calculated average country-level beliefs when it came to two central tenets of economic liberalism: a belief in the virtues of competition and a belief in the importance of individual responsibility. They found that developed market economies such as Switzerland, the United States, New Zealand and Canada tended to have higher cultural beliefs in favour of individual responsibility. While those countries also score highly in terms of cultural beliefs in favour of competition, it appears that countries with higher scores on this variable are fast developing countries such as India, China, and Morocco.

Mapping these country-level beliefs against the CSR actions of firms in those countries confirmed that firms are more likely to greenwash when populations’ beliefs in the virtue of competition are predominant, and when their beliefs in individual responsibility are less prominent. Therefore, in a country like Morocco, where beliefs in the virtue of individual responsibility are low, but in the virtue of competition are high, firms are more likely to greenwash. Conversely, in a country like France, where the population believes in the virtue of individual responsibility but prefers an absence of competition, firms are less likely to greenwash as they tend to implement socially and environmentally responsible actions without specifically signalling those actions.

The question is where do countries like Nigeria fall into?