Business in the Heart of Darkness: SOCO's Oil Exploration in the Virunga National Park
Emerging markets often are portrayed as dysfunctional and are characterized by weak institutions. Such environments can expose foreign direct investment to myriad challenges, including the demand for bribes, regulatory obstacles, government and business partner hold-up problems, macroeconomic meltdowns, and even civil war. This case underscores how non-market risk factors can have powerful implications on the success or failure of a business and must be monitored continuously and addressed with deliberate strategies. The case features SOCO International, a British oil and gas exploration and production company fighting in February 2015 to maintain its license to operate in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amid a worldwide backlash against its practices. Students will step into the shoes of SOCO, the DRC government, the local community, and the international community as they develop a 360-degree view of the situation. Discussions should highlight how to diagnose and address challenges on multiple fronts.