R:ETRO seminars - Reputation: Ethics, Trust, and Relationships at Oxford

Information about upcoming R:ETRO seminars and links to recordings and abstracts from past seminars.

For further information or to be added to the mailing list, email reputation@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Hilary term 2023


Monday 16 January 4-5pm (GMT) - 'Abiding by morality within the neoclassical theory of the firm’

With Santiago Mejia, Assistant Professor Law and Ethics, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

Abstract: Neoclassical accounts of the theory of the firm have been valuable in helping us understand the economic principles that explain how various rights are assigned to the different constituencies of the firm. This neoclassical analysis starts from the assumption that all of the firm’s constituencies are necessary for its success, and none has any prima facie priority over the others. The privileged status of the constituency granted formal ownership rights is explained by the fact that this is the most efficient allocation of rights, that this allocation of rights maximizes the aggregate net benefits that the firm provides to all of its constituents. It is natural to assume (and the scholarship has typically assumed it) that the constituency granted formal ownership rights should be responsible for what one may call the moral control of the firm, i.e., the power to ensure that the firm’s activities conform with moral norms. As I show in this paper, a close examination of the neoclassical account of the theory of the firm shows that this conclusion is unwarranted. If we want our companies not merely to be efficient but also to abide by moral norms, the constituency with strategic control of the firm should not, in most cases, be also responsible for the moral control of the firm.

More information and to register


Monday 13 February 4-5pm (GMT) - ‘One price tag for impacts - a critical reflection on the standardization of impact measurement and valuation’

With Laura Edinger-Schons, Professor of Sustainable Management, University of Mannheim 

Abstract: In the quest for transparency about sustainability impacts of corporations, various initiatives are developing and piloting methods of impact measurement and valuation, i.e., the assignment of monetary values to their positive as well as negative impacts on people and the environment. In this seminar, I propose to discuss the process of quantification and standardization of sustainability impacts with a special focus on its potential ambivalence. While quantification and standardization promise to bring the unseen into the light and urge managers to take sustainability impacts into account when steering their companies, the idea of standardization has reached a myth-like status and implies the possibility of one central viewpoint on the value of impacts which neglects the multiplicity of worldviews and value judgments. I argue that the process of method development and standardization which is currently underway lacks widespread participation and, as a consequence, could be viewed as a form of epistemic neocolonialism. Further, the omnipresent call for standardization can be argued to counter the need for distributed experimentation which has been called for to address grand challenges like sustainability issues. I invite the group to reflect on our role as academic community in co-developing such standards and the potential meta-insensitivity which we might want to be cautious of.

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Monday 27 February 4-5pm (GMT) - 'Toward a global stakeholder capitalism'

With Ed Freeman, University Professor; Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration, University of Virginia  

Abstract: The purpose of this talk is to delineate four ways to understand the movement to stakeholder capitalism that is emerging around the world. There are important differences in how this crucial idea is being understood, or often, misunderstood. In addition, there are five underlying issues that must be addressed by any revision to the dominant story of business. The challenges involved in these five issues are substantial and call for new methods for business and business schools.

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Past seminars

Michaelmas term 2022

Seeking Justice: Access to remedy for corporate human rights abuse 

Tricia Olsen, Associate Professor of Business Ethics & Legal Studies, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

Does AI threaten human moral agency? A first-person ethics perspective 

Marta Rocchi, Assistant Professor in Corporate Governance and Business Ethics, DCU Business School, Dublin City University 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract

Read all about it? Media coverage, stigmatization and company responses in the wake of corporate scandals (with Ralf Barkemeyer, Lutz Preuss, Olivier Gergaud, and Christophe Faugere)

Arno Kourula, Professor of Business & Sustainability, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Amsterdam  

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

Experts, deliberation, and 'An enemy of the people'

Daniel Arenas, Professor, Department of Society, Politics and Sustainability, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract

Trinity term 2022

Technology-as-Monster: a generative metaphor to explore artificial intelligence possibilities and risks
(with Graham Dove) 

With Anne-Laure Fayard, Full Professor and ERA Chair in Social Innovation, Nova School of Business & Economics 

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When is it ethically admissible for artificial intelligence to lie? 

With Tae Wan Kim, Associate Professor of Business Ethics, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University 

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Leadership, resentment/ressentiment and the inversion of values 

With Joanne B. Ciulla, Professor and Director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership, Rutgers Business School 

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Corporate social responsibility and government: the role of discretion for engagement with public policy (with Jette Steen Knudsen) 

With Jeremy Moon, Professor and Chair of Sustainability Governance, Department of Management, Society and Communication, Copenhagen Business School 

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Hilary term 2022

Being relational: what identity-work can and cannot do for us in diversity and inclusion programmes 

With Mollie Painter, Professor of Ethics and Organisation, Department of Management, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University 
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Why the market failures approach (MFA) needs virtue 

With Caleb Bernacchio, Assistant Professor, School of Business, California State University Monterey Bay 
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The utility of trust: interpersonal, institutional, and technological 

With Tobey Scharding, Assistant Professor of Management & Global Business, Rutgers Business School 
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A structural injustice approach to business ethics 

With Harry van Buren III, Koch Endowed Chair of Business Ethics, Opus College of Business, University of St Thomas 
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Michaelmas Term 2021

Empirical and philosophical reflections on trust in groups (with Jonathan Tallant) 

Sareh Pouryousefi, Assistant Professor, Department of Law & Business, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University

Abstract: A dominant claim in the philosophical literature on trust is that we should stop thinking in terms of group trustworthiness or appropriate trust in groups. In this paper we push back against this claim by arguing that philosophical work on trust would benefit from being brought into closer contact with empirical work on the nature of trust. We consider data on reactive attitudes and moral responsibility to adjudicate on different positions in the philosophical literature on trust. An implication of our argument is that the distinction between different kinds of groups – mere groups versus institutional groups – deserves more attention than is currently recognized in the philosophical literature on trust. 

The power of story in a world on fire: reflections on the transformational power of narratives 

Guido Palazzo, Professor of Business Ethics, HEC Lausanne, University of Lausanne 
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Algorithmic bias and corporate responsibility: how companies hide behind the false veil of the technological imperative

Kirsten Martin, William P. and Hazel B. White Center Professor of Technology Ethics, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame 
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Care in management

Denis G. Arnold, Surtman Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics, The Belk College of Business, UNC Charlotte 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract