Publication Date

Fall 2013

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi

Abstract

One of the ongoing challenges Rio Tinto QIT Madagascar Minerals (RT- QMM) a mining company operating in southeast Madagascar, faces is managing expectations of the local community and setting boundaries to its commitments. Differing perceptions and expectations have resulted in unequal understandings of the project and unrealistic demands made, leading to some community mistrust, conflict and intermittent road blockages.

RT-QMM recognizes the critical role of community dialogue and direct engagement in maintaining its “social license to operate”. This is achieved by direct engagement in and with the host community, presumably grounded in shared values. One of the approaches initiated and implemented by RT-QMM to address these challenges and issues was the Kadaha Initiative, which had the goal of maximizing positive outcomes and minimizing negative impacts.

This research focuses on analyzing the Kadaha Initiative to identify whether it assisted in improving dialogue with, and actions within, communities about their concerns. The findings of the Kadaha Initiative were compared to the Thomson and Boutilier social license to operate model that consists of three different levels: (i) economic legitimacy, (ii) socio-political legitimacy and interactional trust, and (iii) institutionalized trust.

Overall, the Kadaha Initiative did not prove to be an effective approach to improving dialogue and action, or maintaining social license to operate, for RT-QMM. There was inadequate communication with the community, which led to the breakdown of confidence between the stakeholders and Rio Tinto. This can be directly attributed to the fact that it did not adequately address the key elements of three levels of the social license to operate required to attain institutionalized legitimacy.

RT - QMM should continue to emphasize the importance of community engagement and ownership based on joint responsibilities and benefits, which must be linked to concrete actions and not only dialogue and consultation. Communication must be interactive, two-way and driven by positive change, confidence and ownership. Renewed focus on appreciative inquiry and direct engagement will allow RT- QMM to harness the commitment, and knowledge of the local population, while permitting them to continue in dialogue and mutual engagement by fostering empowerment at the community level.

Disciplines

Business and Corporate Communications | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research

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