We have produced influential research in the field. This has appeared in top scientific journals including Academy of Management Annals, Academy of Management Learning & Education, Academy of Management Review, Business & Society, Business Ethics Quarterly, Human Relations, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Marketing, Organization, Organization Science, and Organization Studies.
The following is a selected list of our current research projects:
Environmental and Social Responsibility in the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Sector: Challenges and Prospects
This research project examines the range of environmental and social responsibility strategies used by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the driving forces behind these strategies and the barriers to implementation. Using an innovative multi-stakeholder approach, the research will provide a framework for integrating social and environmental issues into SME business strategies. The findings of the study will help SMEs develop best practices in environmental and social responsibility as well as enable policy makers to design more effective incentives for SMEs to improve their environmental and social performance. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
This ongoing project asks the question of whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an effect instrument for achieving progressive changes in the business sector. In particular, it highlights the growing public cynicism concerning CSR in business and industry. For example, tobacco companies routinely top the most 'ethical company' indexes, even when their products are widely considered deadly. Large petroleum firms now invest massive funds into their CSR projects, which seems ironic in relation to the goals of a sustainable society. Is it true that CSR is often a smokescreen that furthers (rather than reforms) business practice? Can CSR be leveraged to achieve a sustainable society or ought it be abandoned in favor of some other method for bringing business and society back together? Led by Professor Peter Fleming.
Bribery. Fraud. Insider trading. Financial misreporting. Following the post-Enron error of heightened vigilance and scrutiny, why does organizational corruption still occur and what measures might be taken to detect and curb it? According to some studies, corruption in the international business world is increasing. Seldom does a day pass without a new scandal being reported in the newspapers. This project seeks to understand the causes of corruption in the private and public sectors around the world. While greed and opportunism might be to blame, this research project has found that even good citizens may sometimes feel tempted to engage in corrupt activity. It points to some of the key reasons why and what might be done about it. Led by Professor Peter Fleming.
This research project studies the psychological processes whereby employees perceive corporations' CSR initiatives and react upon these perceptions within and outside the workplace. Although corporations have increased their investments in CSR with the assumption that this will trigger positive attitudes and behaviors from their employees, relatively little is known about how employees perceive and react to CSR. This project aims at consolidating the psychological micro-foundations of CSR by delivering a threefold contribution. First, it identifies and analyzes systematically prior empirical studies that have investigated of employee's perceptions of and reactions to CSR in order to consolidate and evaluate current knowledge. Second, it aims at developing new psychometric multi-dimensional measures to evaluating employees' perceptions of CSR policy. Third and finally, it unpacks the multilevel processes whereby employees react to CSR both at the individual and business-unit levels of analysis and investigates the interplay between both processes. In so doing, this project aims at providing fine-grained and multilevel explanations of how employees react to their perceptions of the treatment of stakeholders by the corporation to clarify whether it makes a difference (or not) for employees to work for a corporation they perceive as socially responsible. Led by Professor Jean-Pascal Gond.
This project looks at how ethics is shaped by organizational and occupational cultures in the financial industries. This involves looking how cultures come about, the relatively influence of different forms of cultures (such as profession, occupational, organizational and so on), how these cultures impact people's decision making, the potential to change these cultures, and the potential problems this gives rise to. Led by Professor Andre Spicer.
This project seeks to identify socially responsible operations. The effort is through a special issue of the journal Production and Operations Management, which Professor Mohan Sodhi is co-editing.
Evaluating Multi-stakeholder Initiatives and Social Licence to Operate in the Extractive Industries: An International Comparative Analysis
This research project employs a multi-stakeholder perspective to advance knowledge about the function and value of a social licence to operate in the extractives industry. Drawing from case studies in Australia, Canada, Chile, Finland, Ghana, India, Papua New Guinea and Peru the project will develop key insights on how communities, corporations and states conceptualize and operationalize the concept of social licence and how these conceptualizations of a social licence influence relationships between stakeholders. The project seeks both to contribute to theories of CSR and stakeholder engagement as well as to inform appropriate corporate and policy responses. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
Livelihood Struggles and Resistance Movements against Extractive Industries: Narratives from Brazil, Chile and India
This research project examines three resistance movements in Brazil, Chile and India where Indigenous groups are resisting mining operations on their lands. We argue these movements represent forms of subaltern resistance whereby marginalized communities negotiate with market and state actors to protect their livelihoods. In particular, we highlight the ecological and cultural aspects of these resistance movements and explore the tensions and contradictions that arise from mining activity. We draw on insights from political ecology to develop a more grounded theoretical account of resistance movements. We discuss the theoretical implications of our findings for resistance movements particularly with respect to the role of the state, and corporate social responsibility. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
This research project examines collective agreements by global retailers about working conditions in the apparel industry of Bangladesh. It explores how power dynamics between key stakeholders impacts the lives and livelihoods of local communities and how the politics of global health and safety initiatives are contested at the local level. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
This research project will advance knowledge about one of the most significant yet poorly understood problems facing the world today - global climate change. It will create greater understanding about how interactions between market, state and civil society actors shape climate change strategies. By conducting a comparative analysis of climate change strategy in Australia, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. the research will provide a database of best practices in climate change strategy and policy. The project is significant because it will build knowledge on how business firms can develop new climate-specific capabilities. The findings can help policy makers, managers and interest groups develop more proactive climate change strategies. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council and involves partner investigators from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, University of Reading and the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
Work is now a central facet of our lives in modern society. More and more of our identity and social norms are linked to our jobs. But has our obsession with work gone too far? This research project delves into the negative effects that can develop when we become 'wedded' to our jobs. In many industries, overwork is a basic fact of life and sometimes even a badge of honor, whereby employees are always on call and prioritize it over almost everything else (including leisure, family, and so-forth). The recent case of a London banking intern who worked for three-days without a break before dying is indicative of the 'all or nothing' attitude many firms foster among their workforce. Are we able to develop a more balanced approach to our jobs? Led by Professor Peter Fleming.
This project conceptualizes the dynamics and interactions of justification and power in the context of the controversy surrounding shale gas exploration in Québec, Canada, with the aim to explain how and why a de facto moratorium on fracking resulted. Building on Boltanski and Thévenot's economies of worth theory as well as studies of power, it shows how stakeholders from government, civil society, and industry interacted through their justifications and mobilized their respective power to establish the moral legitimacy of the extraction of a natural resource. Our results clarify the justification of power whereby power shapes justification through immunization, hijacking, delegation, and multiplication as well as the power
of justification by which justification shapes uncertainty and helps to recover democracy and even institutions, and in so doing alters stakeholders' power. Our findings also show how these two mechanisms, together with stakeholders' efforts to align their justifications and power bases, explain the development of the controversy. By bridging the justification perspective with conceptualizations of power, this study advances current debates on political Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Led by Professor Jean-Pascal Gond.
This project looks at the rise of 'the wellness economy'. It explores how a new market sector has been created out of what were previously considered to be marginal new age practices. Some examples include mindfulness, yoga, life coaching, various diets, happiness interventions and the like. In particular, it explores how many of these practices have been imported into the workplace, how they are being used to manage our everyday lives and how governments are using them as interventions. It also looks at how these are interventions are being increasingly linked with technology, through aspects like the quantified self movement. The project explores is particularly interested in looking at the darker side of these interventions, and how they might give rise to new pathologies. Led by Professor Andre Spicer.
Constructing the markets for virtue: The visible hands of CSR consultants and their engineering role in the commodification of CSR
Although the contemporary resurgence of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been described as the development of a 'market for virtue', little is known about the social construction of CSR markets. Prior works either focus on the economic potential of these markets or criticize the social commodification they reflect, denying them any virtue other than generating profit or maintaining the capitalist status quo. This research focuses on the activities undertaken by consultants to build a market for CSR consultancy in three different cultural contexts (Québec, France, United Kingdom). It aims at making visible the "hand" of consultants in the making of CSR markets and in the permanent expansion of their boundaries. More specifically, this research project highlights the role played by consultants' tools and local institutional contexts in the processes of CSR market-building as well as the identity tensions faced by CSR consultants as a result of having to conciliate the search for profit and purpose through their job activities. In uncovering the double process of socialization of markets and marketization of society that underlies the making of the market for virtue, this research also clarifies the regulative dynamics at play in the CSR marketplace. Led by Professor Jean-Pascal Gond.
This is based on work with the Italian company, Barilla, and seeks to analyse how the contracts between Barilla and durum-wheat farmers have evolved over the years. Although primarily analytical, the work has case study and econometric elements. It is led by Professor Mohan Sodhi.
In the context of shareholder interest in sustainability, the study looks into what companies report as sustainability and the financial performance. The work is being carried out by a doctoral student under the supervision of Professor Mohan Sodhi.
The Modern Corporation Project seeks to connect corporate governance to political economy. By linking the theory and practice of corporate governance, it welcomes the development of a wide-ranging debate on the the nature and consequences of contemporary corporate governance theory and practice in relation to the public purpose of the corporate form. Its contributors are leading international academics from the fields of Company Law, Economics, Accounting, Management and Politics. Led by Prof. Hugh Willmott and Dr. Jeroen Veldman, more information available at: https://themoderncorporation.wordpress.com/.
This research project addresses Indigenous economic self-sufficiency by developing a model of Indigenous enterprise development and governance. By focusing on sustainability of Indigenous communities in remote areas, the project seeks new ways to promote economic participation and development, supporting capacity at local and regional levels and building opportunities for indigenous families and individuals to become self-sufficient. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
This research project analyzes the role of political CSR and multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) in managing conflicts. We argue that power asymmetries between key actors in the political economy can diminish the welfare of communities impacted by extraction. We identify a number of governance challenges that arise as a result of these power asymmetries and develop a translocal governance framework from the perspective of vulnerable stakeholders that can enable a more progressive approach to societal governance of MNCs. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
This research project investigates conflicts in the extractives industries (mining, oil and gas) in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia. It examines the role of market, state and civil society actors in these conflicts and the range of transnational and translocal networks of these actors. The project also conducts a critical analysis of CSR strategies employed by the extractives industries to manage conflicts. Led by Professor Bobby Banerjee.
This research project studies the process of cross-national diffusion of responsible corporate governance practices, such as Say on Pay (shareholder consultation on executive remuneration) or the Carbon Disclosure Project (transparent disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions by public firms), and the role of (minority) shareholder activists therein. Shareholder activists pushing for their firms' adoption of such practices often build on a transnational infrastructure for activism (such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment), on allied activists in other countries, and on pioneer developments by firms in these other countries, and adopt different tactics at different stages of the diffusion process. Studying the diffusion of these responsible practices informs about how to elaborate and strengthen a more responsible corporate governance system - that is, how firms are governed and regulated. Led by Dr Sebastien Mena.
Local and global business activities, in addition to being regulated by states and international organizations, are increasingly regulated privately - that is by private regulatory initiatives (PRIs) that design standards or codes of conduct for corporate responsibility and sometimes monitor their voluntary adoption by firms. This research project examines several new dynamics brought up by the emergence of such PRIs, such as how these new forms of regulation can obtain legitimacy, how they compete with each other, how different interests look to shape their regulations in one way or another, or what reactions and strategies and firms and activist groups employ toward different types of PRIs. As PRIs shape the (corporate responsibility) activities of firms, but also that of other stakeholders, such as NGOs or governments, analyzing such influence will leverage several implications when it comes to policy, regulation, and firms' and civil society organizations' strategies. Led by Dr Sebastien Mena.