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Strategic CSR in Afghanistan - The Case of Roshan, An Afghan Telecommunication Company

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CSR is a rising phenomena in Afghanistan – but why are firms concerned about CSR in aleast-developed context such as Afghanistan, and what are the strategic benefits? This paper is oneof the first to explore these CSR issues in a least-developed country. It does so by focusing on CSRin the Afghan telecommunication sector and in particular on ‘Roshan’ as a case company. The findingsof this paper are two-folded. First, it provides an overview of the CSR practices in the telecommunicationsector in Afghanistan. Second, it focuses on one case and explains whether Roshancan gain strategic advantages through CSR in Afghanistan, and if so which and how these strategicbenefits are gained. The paper shows that the developmental challenges of Afghanistan are the keyexplanations for why companies engage in CSR. Roshan has engaged in proactive CSR to overcomethe contextual barriers for growth. Based on an analysis of five CSR projects, it can be assessedthat Roshan enhances its competitive advantage through CSR in internal, external, and wider-society levels. It is analyzed that Roshan influences its competitive context both from inside-outand out-side in dimensions, and that the CSR projects could all live up to the strategic CSR criteriadrawn from the academic work of Porter and Kramer, Burke and Logsdon and Blowfield. Finally,the paper discusses how in a context of a weak state and civil society, and massive developmentalchallenges, CSR is not a matter of an ‘add-on choice’, but is based on a ‘license to operate’ motivation,where businesses have free room for maneuvering CSR towards their strategic priorities andbusiness goals. Whether this creates a ‘shared value’ for both business and in particularly for thesociety is however still questionable.

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Sameer A. Azizi

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