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 Organisation Studies.

The following is a selected list of our current research projects:

Responsibility

Conservation Finance and Indigenous Ecologies

In collaboration with researchers from Ivey Business School, Western University, Ontario and Chippewas of Thames First Nation, this research project investigates the design of a conservation impact bond aimed at restoring and protecting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous lands in the region of Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Using a community-based participatory research, it investigates how different Indigenous and non-Indigenous views of nature and conservation can be incorporated within financial instruments and their associated evaluation of impacts. For instance, how are financial expectations accommodated with the Indigenous perspectives and conservation science priorities? What is the governance process through which such financial instruments can enable the articulation and inclusion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships to the land? What is the role of financial value in the allocation of conservation efforts?

Indigenous Business Models of Sustainable Development

This is an interdisciplinary project led by the International Institute for Environment and Development and involves project partners and Indigenous communities from China, Peru, India and Kenya. These countries have large indigenous populations living in poverty and growing income inequality between indigenous and non-indigenous populations. At the same time these countries are facing challenges of unsustainable development and biodiversity loss, and need to find ways to promote transitions to sustainability. The project will enhance understanding of how to promote transition to sustainable and inclusive development - specifically, the role of community enterprises in achieving economic, social and environmental goals, and short value chains in tapping regional market opportunities (e.g. increasing demand for organic/ecological food from growing middle classes). It will conduct 4 in-depth case studies of indigenous enterprise models, and shed light on how successful

indigenous enterprises can be scaled up and adapted to different context, and the policies and approaches needed to promote this. Research findings are cogenerated with indigenous communities, policy makers, business experts and CSOs, based on rigorous and inclusive methods. The research will contribute to knowledge on how emerging indigenous business models and mixed economies contribute to Sustainable Development Goals.

Evaluating Multi-stakeholder Initiatives in the Extractive Industries

There are more than 800 ongoing conflicts involving the extractive industries (mining, oil and gas) and communities impacted by extractive activity, mainly in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.  The overall aim of this research project is to build a more community-based approach to natural resource extraction. Such a framework would identify and explain linkages between corporate strategies, government policies, civil society initiatives, community interests and achieved outcomes in both advanced and emerging economies. A key outcome of the project is to inform corporate strategy and government policy in developing community engagement practices that would achieve better results in terms of addressing community needs, thus reducing the potential for conflict.

Critically Examining Corporate Social Responsibility

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.

Explaining Organisational Corruption

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.

Evaluating the Outcomes of CSR projects in Odisha: A Multistakeholder Approach

This research project in collaboration with researchers from Xavier Institute of Management in Odisha, India investigates the outcomes of selected CSR projects that were implemented following the passage of legislation that requires large Indian companies to spend at least 2 percent of their profits every year on CSR initiatives. The state government of Odisha constituted a CSR council to institutionalize various CSR activities undertaken by corporations in the districts of the state. CSR projects are implemented with the involvement of state, market and civil society actors. This research project investigates the social, economic and environmental outcomes of selected CSR projects after their stated completion dates.

The Degrowth Project: Theoretical Perspectives on Organizations and Organizing in a Post-Growth Era.

This research project in collaboration with researchers from the University of South Florida, University of Victoria, University of Technology Sydney and International School of Management explores how society might disengage from the putative imperative of unbridled economic growth. The research explores revised notions of fiduciary responsibility, fundamentally different forms of organizing (e.g., B corporations, social enterprises, the resurgence of cooperatives), and firms engaged in developing the circular economy. It also focuses on the role played by organizational cultures, structures, technologies, human resource ideologies, environmental management practices, and processes of organizational change--first in sustaining the traditional growth paradigm, and second in framing and bringing alternative paradigms forward.

Developing Sustainable Enterprises in Cuba

This research project in collaboration with researchers from the University of Havana investigates the performance of enterprise networks in creating sustainable enterprises in Cuba. As an economy in transition, Cuba faces significant challenges in transforming its economy from a centrally planned state economy to a market economy. The government has implement a series of reforms aimed at opening up the economy and expanding the non-state sector. Expansion of the economy will inevitably be accompanied by environmental and social problems and the country faces key sustainability challenges in transiting to a market economy. The government has set up a network of enterprises designed to attract foreign investment and develop local enterprises, while maintaining a focus on sustainability. Through in-depth interviews with key stakeholders the project will identify challenges and opportunities arising from developing enterprises in Cuba as well as assess the extent of integration of social and environmental concerns into enterprise goals.

Building ethical cultures in finance

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.

Socially responsible operations

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.

Power Dynamics in Global Production Networks: Insights from the Apparel Industry in Bangladesh

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.

Consolidating Micro-CSR: Psychological and Sociological Microfoundations

This research project, conducted in partnership with researchers from the University of Toulouse 1 Capitole in France, Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and Vrije University in The Netherlands, studies the psychological and sociological processes whereby individuals perceive or engage with 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 individuals engage with CSR initiatives in distinct ways, either as CSR professionals, employees actively promoting CSR or simply reacting to what they perceive of their organizational CSR initiatives.  This project aims at consolidating the psychological as well as the sociological micro-foundations of CSR by delivering a threefold contribution.  First, it conceptualizes the distinction between psychological and sociological micro-CSR and maps systematically these two subfields of studies.  Second, it consolidates prior empirical studies of psychological micro-CSR through meta-analytic techniques to evaluate current knowledge.  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. Led by Professor Jean-Pascal Gond.

Making Sense of the Work of CSR Professionals

This project encompasses collaborations with researchers from Queen Mary University, the University of Bath and Newcastle Business School that all focus on the new CSR professionals. These studies seek to make sense of this emerging process of CSR professionalization and to investigate how these new professionals make sense of their occupational mandate and of CSR. Empirical studies in various fields such as CSR management in Korea, CSR consultancy in Greece, or the field of CSR professionals in the UK seek, will help develop an understanding how these practitioners make sense of the meaning of CSR, deal with tensions and paradoxes inherent to CSR in the context of financialized capitalism, and construct and enact new ‘socially responsible’ professional identities. This project will also analyze the broader field-level dynamics of CSR professionalization.

Sustainability

Unpacking the Microfoundations of Shareholder Activism on Sustainability Issues

This project builds on and extends prior engagement activities with the United Nations supported Principle for Responsible Investment (PRI) and, in partnership with researchers from Erasmus and Groningen Universities (NL), focuses on the actual practice of institutional investors’ shareholder engagement of companies on environmental, social or governance (ESG) issues. Its aim is to unpack the communicational, knowledge and political dynamics structuring corporate-investor interactions around ESG issues, to clarify the organizational and coalition-levels boundary conditions that explain the effectiveness of such actions, to specify which combinations of micro-practices are the more likely to trigger corporate-level change in ESG performance. Methodologically, our analyses combine qualitative, quantitative as well as fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative methods to better understand how shareholder activism on ESG issues actually work in practice and how its effectiveness can be improved.

The Sustainability of the Entrepreneurship Industry

This project looks at the rise of the ‘entrepreneurship industry’ and the impact it has on ventures, individuals as well as the wider economy. In particular, it examines the factors which have led to the expansion of a whole industry offering would-be entrepreneurs support of various kinds. The project is being run jointly with Rasmus Hartmann (Copenhagen Business School) and Anders Dhal Krabbe (Stanford University). The first working paper has been widely circulated and discussed by key figures in Silicon Valley.

Corporate and Institutional Strategies for Climate Change: An International Comparative Analysis

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.

The Coming Workers Society?

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.

The wellness economy

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. The project a collaboration with Carl Cederstrom from Stockholm University. It has led to two books (The Wellness Syndrome, Desperately Seeking Self Improvement) which have book been widely reviewed in the international media. Spicer and Cederstrom have presented on the topic to a wide range of audiences including TEDx events, Universities around the world as well as foundations and leading cultural institutions. The work has been featured in place like Harvard Business Review, the New Yorker, Financial Times and much more.

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.

Evolving supply contracts towards sustainability

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.

Sustainability reporting and financial performance

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.

Pathologies of Knowledge Work: Bullshit and Stupidity in organizations

This long running project looks at the pathological aspects of knowledge work and the knowledge economy. In particular, it examines how knowledge intensive firms can generate stupidity and empty rhetoric (or Bullshit). It examines how these processes can make many organisations unsustainable. The project is run jointly with Mats Alvesson (Lund University). It has resulted in two books (Business Bullshit and The Stupidity Paradox). Both have been reviewed and discussed extensively in the international media and polict circles. The Stupidity Paradox was on the Prime Minister of Australia’s summer reading list. Spicer has presented work from this project in universities, businesses and cultural instituotions around the world.

Led by Andre Spicer.

Making social movements more effective

This project builds on Spicer’s long running work on the organisation of social movements. It explores what makes some social movement tactics more effectively than others. It has mainly involved influential interventions in the public debate around movements like Extinction Rebellion. We have However, we have also provided some advice to social movements about how they can craft their message to reach out beyond their core audience.

Led by Andre Spicer

Governance

The Modern Corporation Project

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/.

Social and Cultural Factors in Indigenous Enterprise Management and Governance

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.

Transnational Politics and Transnational Governance

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.

Transnational and Translocal Resistance Movements in the Extractives Industry

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.

Shareholder activism and the diffusion of responsible corporate governance practices

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.

Private regulation

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.

The critical corporation project

This project looks at the rise of the modern corporate form, how it came to be focused on maximizing shareholder value, the potential problems this has given rise to, and what potential alternatives may be. This project is based on bringing together scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds in order to understand these changes and to chart out alternatives. So far we have run a successful two year series of workshops on the corporation. This has funding from the ESRC. We are editing the first handbook which brings together academic research on the corporation from a range of different disciplinary perspectives. We have also been involved in ongoing attempts to re-open the policy agenda around corporate governance. Led by Professor Andre Spicer. For more information visit: http://www.city.ac.uk/law/research/the-critical-corporation-project

Constructing and Regulating Sustainable Finance

Developed in partnership with scholars from Audencia (France), Nottingham Trent University (UK) and Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden), this set of projects aims at clarifying the regulatory and epistemological dynamics underlying the rise of sustainable finance. On the regulatory side, this project focuses on the orchestration of governmental regulations in the domain of sustainable investing in France, as well as on the deliberative processes underlying the production of European-level regulations for sustainable finance. On the epistemological side, it focuses on the relationships between knowledge and practice of shareholder activism on sustainability issues, as well as on the enablers and barriers to the institutionalization of a dedicated ‘sustainable finance’ corpus of knowledge in academia.

Governing Corporate Sustainability through Metrics?

This project aims at exploring the various mechanisms underlying the uses of quantification to promote corporate sustainable behavior and/or shame irresponsible behavior. It includes projects with Groningen University focused on explaining the influence of, and resistance to, sustainability metrics—such as sustainability financial indices or CSR/ESG ratings—by considering more closely how metrics producers and evaluated organizations interact. This project also explores the value of various forms of stat-activism—the process by which activist groups can mobilize metrics—to trigger effective corporate or regulatory shift towards more sustainable practices. An going study in partnership with Birmingham University and the University of Sydney Business School focuses in particular on the role of statactivism in the promotion of tax justice in Australia.