Communities’ Reflections on Oil Companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility Activities in Utqiaġvik, Alaska

Ms Yu Cao1

1Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, United States

My paper explores Utqiaġvik community members’ reflections on oil companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities within the region of North Slope, Alaska. My  research question is: how have the people of Utqiaġvik responded to the CSR activities of oil companies whose operations impact the region’s social, economic, and environmental welfare? This paper also seeks to understand why CSR activities sometimes fail to achieve their purported goals. By interviewing residents from Utqiaġvik through fieldwork in both Utqiaġvik and Fairbanks, Alaska, I obtained perspectives on the impacts of oil development on the local environment and community, bringing to light the limits of current CSR activities. I argue that while oil companies’ profit motives tend to restrict the potential of CSR activities, local people should be able to influence the types of CSR activities corporations pursue, given that they experience the local impacts of the industry.  I suggest that oil companies improve their risk-management approaches and communicate more effectively with local communities their current and planned developments and their intentions to minimize impacts, and respect local culture especially when operating in the Arctic region. I conclude by offering recommendations to the oil companies regarding the nature and desired impacts of their CSR activities.


Ms Yu Cao is a second year Ph.D. student at Northern Arizona University in the department of Politics and International Affairs. She gained her Master’s degree at University of Alaska Fairbanks in Environmental Politics and Arctic Studies. Her research focuses on resource extraction and corporation-community relations especially in the Arctic region. Originally from China, she is currently working on her research project regarding Chinese-owned multinational extractive industries’ social responsibilities in the Arctic region.

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