Theory, policy and practice perspectives from Royal Holloway

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We are living in the ‘Anthropocene’, but does ‘big business’ care?

The notion of the ‘Anthropocene’, coined and popularised by the atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, recognises that we are living in a crucial moment in the history with humanity’s relation with the planet.  It conjures a time when we know that our activities are causing escalating environmental and social crises on a global scale, and may have time to do something positive about it, changing our practices to avert impending catastrophe.  There is evidence to suggest that alternative organisations such as cooperatives, new social movements, and social enterprises are gradually expanding their efforts to integrate sustainability objectives into their decision-making.  However, according to Crutzen’s analysis, there is a need for radical changes in the practices of ‘big business’. On this point, the sustainability news is mixed:


On the one hand many big companies have changed their policies in response to consumer pressure. For instance, Continue reading


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Excellent sustainability teaching in the School of Management recognised in Teaching Awards

CRIS teaching team

Katharina Husemann, Anica Zeyen, Sigrun Wagner, Stephanos Anastasiadis & Diego Vazquez-Brust

Six members of the Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) at Royal Holloway, University of London, who are responsible for much of the sustainability-related teaching in the School of Management have won all three college excellence in teaching prizes awarded to staff in the School in 2016. This confirms the commitment of CRIS to maintain high quality, innovative sustainability teaching, and mirrors the School’s long-standing commitment as a signatory to PRME, the United National Principles for Responsible Management Education.

The Committee responsible for awarding the prizes considered a “very strong field of applications” which marks these prizes as particularly significant.

The two individual excellence awards went to Dr Katharina Husemann and Dr Anica Zeyen whereas the team award went to Dr Stephanos Anastasiadis, Prof Laura Spence, Dr Diego Vázquez-Brust and Dr Sigrun M. Wagner. The prizes award teaching across all levels, postgraduate and, mostly, undergraduate teaching. The courses in which these colleagues teach cut across several pathways of the BSc management programmes – marketing, entrepreneurship and sustainability – and also include courses mandatory for all students, thus demonstrating how sustainability cuts across disciplines outside its sometimes perceived niche.

The prizes were awarded for a range of innovative practices, from Pecha Kucha to transformative learning to game-playing, all of which focus on improving student learning. Continue reading

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The Business of ‘Business Ethics’ and the Ethics of Business

laura spence inauguralWhat is business ethics? An oxymoron? An academic field? Just good business sense? These were exactly the questions posed by Professor Laura Spence at her inaugural lecture on November 24th.

To the packed Windsor auditorium, Laura shared insights on the ‘business of business ethics and the ethics of business’, intertwining her vast research experience with ethical theory. Laura provided a narrative of her career progression within the broad realm of management and through roles at Kingston University, Brunel University, and most recently, Royal Holloway where Laura gained her Chair in 2011. We learned that one core thread connects Laura’s experiences, achievements and passions; nurturing an analytical focus on the ongoing balancing of ethical and unethical behaviour in business life. This, to Laura’s respondent, Professor Mette Morsing from Copenhagen Business School, captures the essence of the ‘Laura Spirit’; curious, persistent, uncorrupted, and committed to Continue reading

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MSc Sustainability & Management Graduate wins National Sustainability Award

SLA15-winner-vertwhiteAnthony Kingsley, a graduate from RHUL’s MSc in Sustainability and Management degree, has just won the Sustainability Professional award at the annual edie Sustainability Leaders Awards. These awards are presented to individuals and organisations who are working to develop successful businesses in economic, environmental and social terms.

Anthony is Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Lead for Vacherin. This is a high-end catering provider for large corporate clients such as Walt Disney Company, Battersea Power Station, Clarksons, JLT Group and Hiscox. Anthony is head of Vacerin’s sustainability strategy called Vacherin Cares, measuring the company’s environmental & social impact, then developing operational efficiencies to reduce any negative impact. As they are a food service provider, he primarily focuses on the food’s life cycle, from farm to fork and back again.  Through Anthony’s work, the company has partnered with some non-profit organisations, such as the Sustainable Restaurant Association, to Continue reading

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Volkswagen CEO has fallen on his sword – but is it the death of diesel?

In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, Justin O’Brien, Sigrun Wagner and Stephanos Anastasiadis from RHUL’s School of Management and the Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) discuss corporate ethics, regulation and profit banner_volkswagen-logo-vector-300x292in a contribution to The Conversation. To read the whole article, click here.


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The role of corporate governance for social and environmental responsibility in SMEs

Kiril Nejkov

Kiril Nejkov, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group

Corporate governance is a significant part of discussions regarding corporate social responsibility and sustainability. What should the structure and composition of the Board be? How should accountability be embedded in an organisation’s systems and structures? Who is the right chief executive officer? Which standards are signed up to and complied with? A less well-trodden topic is how governance issues relate to sustainability in smaller firms, where we know there is a lack of bureaucracy, systems and structures, with informal management and the combination of ownership and control being the norm. Academic literature has failed to develop substantive theory and has neglected policy implications with regards to the role of appropriate governance frameworks for encouraging socially responsible behaviour among emerging and developing country Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). A seminar co-organised by RHUL’s Centre for Research into Sustainability (CRIS) sought to address these gaps. Continue reading