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When sorry is not an option: CSR reporting and ‘face work’ in a stigmatised industry – A case study of Barrick (Acacia) gold mine in Tanzania

Sarah Lauwo, Orthodoxia Kyriacou and Olatunde Julius Otusanya

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2020, vol. 71, issue C

Abstract: This paper investigates how a stigmatised company mobilised accounting, particularly CSR reporting, to manage a crisis of legitimacy and spoiled identity following a series of social and environmental crises. Specifically, it uses Goffman’s (1959, 1963) writings on stigma and presentation of self and Benoit’s (1995) image restoration theory to explore how a large mining company in Tanzania used various strategic responses in striving to distance and dissociate itself from the attached ‘stigma’. The evidence shows that, in response to attacks from pressure-group organisations, rather than apologising for the social and environmental crises, the company was preocupied with ‘defensive stigma management’ strategies, including denial and refocusing attention, evading responsibility, image bolstering, excuses and dissociation. Drawing on our findings, we argue that, rather than making the effects of stigma more visible, accounting and CSR disclosures were mobilised to conceal the threats of stigma, manage the legitimacy crisis and repair spoiled identity. This study moves beyond the current focus on legitimacy in the extant CSR reporting literature, by bringing in the concept of organisational stigma to examine stigma management strategies implemented by a company operating in a stigmatised industry to avoid, reduce or minimise its audiences’ disapproval.

Keywords: Benoit; Goffman; Stigma; Image repair; Mining industry; CSR discourse; Tanzania (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:crpeac:v:71:y:2020:i:c:s1045235419300796

DOI: 10.1016/j.cpa.2019.102099

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