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.

Michaelmas Term 2022

Monday, 17 October, 4-5pm (BST) – 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 

Abstract: Corporate wrongdoing is ubiquitous today. Yet, we know little about when victims have access to remedy. In this talk, Olsen shares findings from her forthcoming book, in which she explores victims’ varying experiences in seeking remedy mechanisms for corporate human rights abuse. The book puts forward a novel theory about the possibility of productive contestation and explores governance outcomes for victims of corporate human rights abuse across Latin America. This foundation informs the 'varieties of remedy' approach or three pathways that victims can use to press for their rights: working within the institutional environment, capitalising on corporate characteristics, and elevating voices. In the book, Olsen challenges the common assumptions in the governance gap literature and argues, instead, that greater democratic practices can emerge from productive contestation. This book brings to bear tough questions about the trade-offs associated with economic growth and conflicting values around human dignity—questions that are very salient today, as citizens around the globe contemplate the type of democratic and economic systems that might better prepare us for tomorrow. 

More information and registration


Monday, 31 October, 4-5pm (GMT) –  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 

Abstract: There is a consistent body of academic literature dedicated to the exploration of ethical concerns related to AI-based systems. Within this literature, many contributions are devoted to the exploration of the responsibility gap (who is responsible for good or bad actions of AI-based systems?) and the attribution of moral agency to the systems themselves (can AI-based systems be held responsible for the outcome they produce?). This seminar focuses on a related ethical concern, devoting its attention to human moral agency and how its attribution is challenged by the opacity of AI-based systems. Opacity intervenes as a modifier of the acting subject’s knowledge regarding the way a decision is made or an output achieved. In this perspective, it is discussed whether different kinds of opacity characterise different levels of moral agency. Finally, a range of solutions intended to enhance the subject’s moral agency in conditions of opacity are presented. The theoretical perspective adopted is in line with a first-person approach to ethics. 

More information and registration


Monday, 14 November, 4-5pm (GMT) – 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  

Abstract: This paper analyses mass media coverage of corporate scandals, utilising a novel dataset of 200 scandals covering a 30-year period. We examine how media coverage is impacted by prior firm stigmatisation, by the corporate response strategy in the aftermath of the scandal, and by the interconnections between these two aspects. We find that, in the wake of a corporate scandal, low stigma organisations initially receive higher levels of media attention than high stigma ones. We explain these results using Expectancy Violation Theory, as a scandal hitting a highly stigmatised organisation merely confirms existing preconceptions and, therefore, lacks novelty. We also find that the choice of a response strategy of denial – relative to strategies of accepting responsibility or claiming diminished responsibility – increases media coverage. In our analysis, we also compare financial and general interest newspapers. The key contribution of our study is uncovering new facets of the intricate interplay between stigma and scandal. 

More information and registration


Monday, 28th November, 4-5pm (GMT) – Experts, Deliberation, and 'An Enemy of the People'

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

Abstract: In this seminar, I propose to examine the role of experts in deliberation in intra and interorganisational settings. Deliberation has long been discussed by organisational scholars both as goal and as a reality within the organisation, and between the organization and its stakeholders. Experts are needed to improve the epistemic quality of the deliberation; but it might clash with the principle of equality of participation characteristic of deliberative views. As a result, experts and organisations become entangled in different types of difficulties. To unpack this problem, first, I will examine how deliberative democracy theorists have understood deliberation and how they have considered the role of experts. Second, I will defend the use of narrative fiction to draw insights into organisational and interorganisational questions. Third, I will analyse Ibsen’s play 'An Enemy of the People' to show the difficulties experts incur with and to argue that a complete understanding about the role of experts in deliberation needs to take into account emotions and contestation. Finally, I will discuss implications for organisations and organisation studies. 

More information and registration

Past seminars

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 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

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 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

Leadership, resentment/ressentiment and the inversion of values 

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

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

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 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract

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 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

Why the market failures approach (MFA) needs virtue 

With Caleb Bernacchio, Assistant Professor, School of Business, California State University Monterey Bay 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract

The utility of trust: interpersonal, institutional, and technological 

With Tobey Scharding, Assistant Professor of Management & Global Business, Rutgers Business School 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract

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 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract

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 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

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 
Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

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