Company-administered grievance processes for external stakeholders: A means for effective remedy, community relations, or private power?

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Company-administered grievance processes for handling complaints by external stakeholders (CGPs) have been endorsed by international standards as a means to provide remedy and to improve companies’ risk management. Despite their apparent proliferation in practice, and a growing body of academic literature which references them, they remain a nebulous and undertheorized phenomenon. A CGP can be anything from a suggestion box to a private court determining what awards a victim of human rights abuses will receive.

Legal scholarship has often described CGPs as mechanisms to provide victims of human rights abuses with an effective remedy. However, in the academic literature more broadly, CGPs are often described as a tool to foster better company-community relations or as pursuing corporate objectives and countering community mobilization against company projects. These trends accompany unique narratives as to the role of governments, companies, and communities in relation to one another.

This Article systematically reviews 117 academic publications on CGPs across various domains including law, human rights, environmental policy, development, natural resources, corporate social responsibility and business ethics. It creates an integrative framework to organize this literature against three broader trends: effective remedy, community relations, and private power. It highlights different research trends, explains underlying disagreements, identifies methodological shortcomings, and identifies opportunities for interdisciplinary engagement in developing theory on this relatively new phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-143
Number of pages73
JournalWisconsin International Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2022


  • Human Rights
  • Grievance Mechanisms
  • Access to remedy
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • business and human rights
  • Extractive Industry
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Corporate Governance
  • literature review


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