Promoting an interdisciplinary discourse on ethical aspects in business and economics is an important mission at the Center for Corporate Governance & Business Ethics. As a part of this mission, the CGBE Lectures have been held every semester since 2012: The lecture series is attended by students, teachers and the CSR community. In the summer term of 2018, leading international experts were once again guest lecturers at FHWien der WKW.
Getting CSR Going: Activists and CSR Managers
Prof. Dr. Frank De Bakker
Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility; IÉSEG School of Management
In his guest lecture, Prof. Frank de Bakker presented two of his most recent publications on the drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in companies.
First, he described the results of a study of civil society activists in the food sector, which focused on the interactions between activist groups and companies concerning CSR-related issues. His study provides an overview of the tactics activists use to influence companies and induce social change. He categorized the activist strategies according to participation intensity – are few or many participants required for the respective actions? – and the form of damage or benefit those strategies create for companies: symbolic or material. Activist groups typically begin with small symbolic actions designed to attract public attention. If these actions have no effect, public pressure is usually increased by more participatory actions such as e-mail protests or boycott calls, which often have material consequences for the companies concerned. Here the activists differ considerably in their approaches and objectives, depending on their ideological orientation.
In another study, de Bakker examined the role of CSR managers who act as “issue sellers” within their organization. His work provides important insights into motivations of CSR managers to ‘sell’ socially relevant topics within their company, the strategies they apply to be successful in the long term, and the role they play in. The analysis casts light on the motivation, aspirations and strategies of activist groups as external “issue sellers” and CSR managers as internal ones. Here is a short video about this topic.
Austrian Anti-Corruption Criminal Law: Concepts-Control-Concerns
Prof. Dr. Susanne Reindl-Krauskopf
Head of Criminal Law Department; University of Vienna
In her guest lecture, Prof. Dr. Susanne Reindl-Krauskopf focused on the fight against corruption by means of criminal law instruments. In her excellent presentation, she first outlined the historical development of criminal law instruments for combating corruption at the international and the European level, focusing in particular on how the definition of what is considered criminally relevant corruption behaviour has expanded and developed over time. In addition to describing the development of Austrian anti-corruption criminal law, Reindl-Krauskopf also discussed the monitoring and control institutions that exist in Austria, namely the Wirtschafts- und Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft (Public prosecution department for economic and corruption-related crimes) and the whistle-blower system, which allows for anonymous reports. According to her assessment, great efforts have been made in Austria in recent years to combat corruption under criminal law and to comply with international guidelines.
Using two real-life case studies, which Reindl-Krauskopf discussed with the audience, she finally explained in an impressive way that in certain complex circumstances, however, the current regulations may still insufficient for protecting society from the harmful effects of corruption.
After the presentation, a lively discussion emerged with numerous questions from students, academic staff, employees from private companies and other interested listeners.
5 years after Rana Plaza: Stitching Governance Institutions in Global Supply Chains
Prof. Dr. Juliane Reinecke
Professor of International Management & Sustainability; King’s Business School
Prof. Dr. Juliane Reinecke’s lecture was about the “Rana Plaza” disaster that happened in Bangladesh five years ago and the subsequent governance developments until today: Over 1,000 people died in 2013 in the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh. How did the textile industry react to this catastrophe?
In addition to impressive pictures and stories from her recurring research trips to Bangladesh, Reinecke introduced the audience to theory and research on collective action. She detailed the efforts and changes that have been made working conditions in Bangladesh since 2013, particularly in the management of global value chains and the strategies of activists who have increasingly turned towards directly addressing the textile brands, which are usually publicly known around the world,in order to exert pressure on the textile manufacturers in Bangladesh and improve safety in factory buildings.
Following the lecture, there was a lively discussion with many interesting questions, especially by students from the Master’s programme in Organizational & Human Resources Development at FHWien der WKW.
Just before the lecture, Prof. Dr. Juliane Reinecke and FH-Prof. Dr. Markus Scholz were interviewed for an Ö1 radio broadcast about the same topic (the German article can be read here).