Faculty & Research
Responsible Business Forum 2016: Building a new business model for the 21st century firm
Responsible business is not a 'choice', it's a strategic response to changing consumer demands.
Manoj Kumar, Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, Tata Trusts, RNT Associates
Is the purpose of business 'to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society' (Milton Friedman)?
Since the crash of 2008, the value of the contribution of business to society has been increasingly questioned in the context of a growing awareness and concern for its impact on the environment, and on societal well-being. However, the short-term financial interests of shareholders and the measurement of value creation on the basis of financial metrics still prevails – can doing 'good' ever really be good for business?
The Responsible Business Forum is one of the key events in a joint programme of research between Saïd Business School and the Catalyst think-tank at Mars Incorporated. The Mutuality in Business research project, launched in 2014, seeks to develop a business management theory for the economics of mutuality with corresponding teaching curriculum, new management practices and business case studies.
Held on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May at Oxford's Saïd Business School, the 2016 Forum tackled head-on the tough question of whether companies were succeeding or failing commercially, socially and environmentally and what needed to be done to improve their performance.
Day one Friday 13 May
Through a series of case studies, and contributions from the 2015/16 Oxford MBA students, the Forum illustrated how companies had implemented innovative responsible business practices, assessed them against a common framework and highlighted the valuable lessons learned. Amongst the companies who presented were Danone, HDFC Bank, Mahindra, Mars, Incorporated, Safaricom, Arabesque Partners, Truestone Impact Investment Management, Al Sanabel, Lotte Duty Free Shop, and Unilever.
Day two Saturday 14 May
Four panels evaluated the strength of the evidence presented from the perspective of prominent investors, policy makers and business leaders. The Forum concluded with a set of reflections from thought leaders drawn from across the globe (pictured L-R, Dr Arleen Westerhof , Frank Akers, Professor Avishay Braverman, and Navi Radjou).
Panel speakers included:
Emmanuel Faber CEO, Danone
- Jean-Christophe Flatin President, Global Chocolate, Mars, Incorporated
- Pascal De Petrini EVP, Strategic Resource Cycles, Danone
- Martin Radvan President, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated
- Bertrand Badré former Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer, The World Bank Group; Visiting Fellow, the Peterson Institute for International Economics
- Goh Kok Huat Chief Operating Officer and President of Real Estate, GIC Private Limited
- Alex van der Velden Partner and CIO, Ownership Capital
- Aart de Geus President and CEO, Bertelsmann Foundation
- Daniel Hurstel Senior Corporate Partner, Willkie Farr & Gallagher
- Simon Walker Director, Institute of Directors
- Dr Arleen Westerhof Coordinator of the European Economic Summit
- Professor Avishay Braverman Economist, Social Leader
- Frank Akers, Oakridge Strategy Group
- Navi Radjou Author and Leadership Advisor
Over time, the Responsible Business Forum will become the leading repository of cases illustrating the successes and failures of responsible business in action. It will show how and why doing “good” is good for business, and how the best businesses do good through the co-creation of commercial and social benefits. It will be a knowledge powerhouse for promoting transformational change and create a movement to reform business for the 21st century. The 2017 event , Making Business Mutual ran on 12 and 13 May 2017.