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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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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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