A distinction with a difference: Harm avoidance and conflict mitigation in business operations in fragile contexts

The paper presents an analysis of several specific conflicts relating to the Tullow Kenya Business Venture’s oil and gas project. The analysis demonstrates that key factors driving these conflicts relate to fragility – the absence of government capacity locally, mistrust of government amongst local people, perceptions of widespread corruption – and to local histories of conflict, including resource conflicts between local ethnic groups.

Through this analysis, the paper illustrates why FCS are difficult operational contexts for companies, and why conventional approaches to social performance and social impact management were not particularly helpful for companies dealing with conflict and fragility. 

On the basis of the analysis, the paper establishes key ways in which conflict sensitivity differs from conventional approaches to social performance and why the latter are deficient for managing conflicts relating to business activity in FCS.  

Related publications

There are four lessons learned papers in this series:

Lessons Learned from the Enabling Good Governance in Kenya’s Oil Sector project

Dealing with fragility: A practice note for oil and gas companies

Economic opportunities in context