A national governance approach to the political nature and role of business: Case study of the mobile telecommunications industry in Afghanistan

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The study focuses on the mobile telecommunications industry in Afghanistan prior to the Taliban takeover of the country in 2021 and seeks to study how the mobile telecommunications corporations engage with the different area-specific governance systems in order to gain legitimacy to operate across Afghanistan. The study capitalises on mixed qualitative data to conduct an embedded case study of the Afghan mobile telecommunications industry as an extreme context for understanding business-society relations in South Asia. Theoretically, the article integrates insights from governance literature on areas of limited statehood to conceptualise business–society relations in Afghanistan beyond state-centric views and assumptions. The findings result in two modalities of business engagement that are conceptualised as a single vis-à-vis multiple governance system approach. Each of these modes of engagement implies a political nature and role for the businesses that are embedded in ethical dilemmas as discussed in the article. These findings contribute to the debate on the ‘political turn’ in the CSR literature and the governance literature on areas of limited statehood.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)843-860
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Areas of limited statehood
  • Governance
  • Mobile telecommunications industry inAfghanistan

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