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

Our Intesa Sanpaolo Research Fellow Rita Mota, with Alan Morrison, Professor of Law and Finance at Saïd Business School, have organised a series of seminars exploring reputation, trust, ethics, and relationships. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the R:ETRO seminar series will go online for as long as required to protect our speakers and participants. For further information or to be added to the mailing list, please email reputation@sbs.ox.ac.uk.

Trinity term

15 May 16.00-17.00 (BST) - Shaping the new sustainability agenda through online deliberation in COVID times

Itziar Castello, Associate Professor in Digital Economy at Surrey Business School

22 May 16.00 - 17.00 (BST) - Transformation in networked whistleblowing: counter-hegemony and moral leadership 

Iain Munro, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Change at University of Newcastle Business School

5 June 16.00 - 17.00 (BST) - Circular economy and the social: self-organization, planning and trust in industrial symbiosis

Steen Vallentin, Associate Professor in Corporate Social Responsibility at Copenhagen Business School; Academic Co-Director of CBS Sustainability

19 June 16.00 - 17.00 (BST) - Beyond COVID-19: the case for human rights in business

Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, Director of the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights (Geneva School of Economics and Management), Research Director of the Center for Business and Human Rights (NYU Stern School of Business)



Past seminars

Hilary Term 2020

23 January 

Whistleblowers counteracting institutional corruptionMarianna Fotaki, Professor of Business Ethics at University of Warwick Business School

Professor Fotaki writes: While various forms of corruption are common in many public institutions and businesses around the world, defining wrongdoing in terms of legality and the use of public office for private gain obstructs our understanding of its nature and intractability. To address this, I propose adopting the notion of institutional corruption (IC) developed by political philosopher Dennis Thompson and legal expert Lawrence Lessig, as divergence from the original purpose of the institution, which may not be illegal but may nevertheless cause harm to people who depend on it by creating perverse dependencies and compelling individuals to act against its core purpose. Such work is much needed to provide in-depth accounts of how external political and legislative pressures enable corruption, and to highlight the role of whistleblowing in restoring organisations to their core mission. Specifically, I will demonstrate how whistleblowers’ disclosures are key to bringing organisations back on track, and conclude by arguing for whistleblower protection and reforms that enable them to speak-up in organisations.

6 February 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication and small and medium-sized enterprises: the governmentality dilemma of explicit and implicit CSR communication Laura Spence, Professor of Business Ethics in the Department of Human Resource Management and Organisational Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London 

In her work with Mette Morsing*, Professor Spence writes: Businesses that promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) through their supply chains by requiring their suppliers to report on and otherwise communicate their CSR are doing a great thing, aren’t they? In this article, we challenge this assumption by focusing on the impact on small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers when their large customer firms pressurise them to make their implicit CSR communication more explicit. We expose a ‘dark side’ to assumed improvements in CSR reporting within a supply chain. We present a conceptual framework that draws on previous research on communication constitutes organisation (CCO) theory, implicit and explicit CSR, and Foucault’s governmentality. We identify and discuss the implications of three resulting dilemmas faced by SMEs: authenticity commercialisation, values control and identity disruption. The overarching contribution of our article is to extend theorising on CSR communication and conceptual research on CSR in SME suppliers (small business social responsibility). From a practice and policy perspective, it is not ultimately clear that promoting CSR reporting among SMEs will necessarily improve socially responsible practice.

*Professor Mette Morsing, Co-Director of the Sustainability Platform at the Copenhagen Business School

20 February 

Collaborating through constructive ambiguity: a political process view on collective actionJuliane Reinecke, Professor of International Management and Sustainability at King’s Business School

Creating global governance institutions that deliver collective benefits cannot be done by any single entity, but requires collaboration for collective action across multiple parties and stakeholders. While scholars have argued that finding common ground amidst conflicting interests – a key challenge in the formation of collective action – often requires a degree of ambiguity through setting wide-ranging, inclusive goals, it is far from clear how ambiguity affects the translation of collaborative agreements into practice. Based on a six-year process study of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety, a global multi-party agreement to end the series of deadly accidents in the Bangladesh garment sector, we examine the role of ambiguity in building institutions that translate collaborative agreements into substantive collective action despite conflicting interests and the ever-present possibility of watering down the agreement. Contrary to traditional expectations that conflicting interests often lead to symbolic rather than substantive commitment, findings highlight how political conflict was productively leveraged, leading parties to escalate collective commitment and substantive action beyond initial self-commitment.