Abstract: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a Deeply Rooted Fashion? The Aluminium of Cameroon Company Case, 1954-2005

Anne Pezet

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a relatively recent phenomenon for companies and their partners. However, we cannot ignore its historical roots. Many companies, especially in industry, developed social and environmental policies and practices a long time ago. These practical and historical dimensions remain yet absent from the academic literature on CSR. In this article, we propose to study a case over a long period of time, from 1952 until 2007, in order to understand how manufacturers took into account the various economic, social, and environmental aspects of their activity, at the time of an investment, then during the exploitation of a production site of aluminium. The case of the company Alucam established in Cameroun shows how the manufacturers integrated the Triple Bottom Line, well before the "invention" of CSR. Since its creation in 1957, this production site of primary aluminium has systematically applied a policy which simultaneously integrated the economic, environmental, and social impacts of its activity. However, this visible permanency masks important changes of shape in the exercise of the CSR. This case study then allows a better understanding of the building process of CSR in the aluminium industry. In that aim, our methodology is historical. The research was mainly carried out on the basis of the study of the archives of Alucam. Such an empirical research, highlighting the reality of the practices implemented in companies constitutes an original contribution to the history of CSR.