Category Archives: Philanthropy

Hybrid organizing in the face of grand challenges

By Ali Aslan Gümüsay.

Sharing is not always caring

In 2015, thousands of refugees arrived in Europe. A recent paper by Kornberger and colleagues (2017) zooms in on the “Train of Hope”, a civil society organization that organically gained exclusive operational command at Vienna’s main train station during this refugee crisis. The paper is a critical reflection on much of the current sharing economy ‘hype’. In contrast to cases of “collaborative consumption”[1], where platform companies such as AirBnB or Uber offer (share?) other people’s resources, this is an exemplary case of engagement and sharing without expectations for direct individual return: a sharing of a concern for social well-being.[2] Sharing then becomes caring.

Hybridity everywhere

What is Train of Hope? It is probably something of a platform and social movement blend that combines various skills like first aid, translation and accommodation services. It is a hybrid organization – and such hybrids seem to pop up everywhere lately. These novel forms of organizing combine different logics, orders of worth, value spheres, organizational forms and/or identities – struggling for a value(s) synthesis.[3] I see incubators, social ventures, ateliers, fab labs struggling to organize, represent and scale – and find their diverse pursuits fascinating, enriching and complementary. They do hybrid organizing in and for society and are frequently novel, digital, flexible, fluid, cross-boundary, multi-jurisdictional, and temporary forms.

Grand challenges & novel forms of organizing

Why now? A potential answer may lie in the types of challenges our societies face. Scholars from the field of management and organization studies speak of “grand challenges”[4] that are complex, uncertain, and multi-jurisdictional phenomena.[5] They represent fundamental, global societal concerns of ecological or social nature that require coordinated and collective efforts of multiple actors, including business firms, governments, civil society, and academia – as well as new forms of (hybrid) organizing.

Together with Emilio Marti (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Hannah Trittin (Leuphana University Lüneburg), and Christopher Wickert (VU University Amsterdam), I have initiated a scientific network that will be funded by the German National Science Foundation (DFG). The network will zoom in over the next three years on the interrelationship between grand challenges and new forms of organizing. Such organizations attempt to tackle the various sustainable development goals from climate change, decent work and sustainable growth, gender equality, populism and racism, societal cohesion, responsible consumption and production, to sustainable cities and communities.

A Janus face

The scientific network takes the vantage point in the assumption that such new forms of organizing often have a Janus face. They are both potential cause and solution for certain grand societal challenges. On the one hand, social entrepreneurial ventures[6], online communities such as Wikipedia and Linux[7], crowd science projects like Foldit, Galaxy Zoo and Polymath[8], and social initiatives like “Train of Hope” promise novel means to tackle these challenges. On the other hand, they also create new ones. For example, crowdsourcing and other new forms of platform-organized work crafted along the surge of the digital economy[9] often fuel the proliferation of precarious, self-employed and low-paid work that undermines social welfare systems and thus endanger modern democracies.[10] Likewise, in her recent book “Weapons of Math Destruction”, O’Neil (2016) describes how the (ab)use of new, seemingly efficient big data management techniques can promote, rather than reduce, racism, inequality and discrimination. Clearly then, novel hybrid forms of organizing promise many opportunities to tackle grand challenges – yet also create new (grand) challenges for society.


Ali Aslan Gümüsay is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Hamburg and Research Fellow at Vienna University of Economics & Business. Twitter: @guemuesay

 

[1] Botsman & Rogers, 2010.

[2] Gümüsay, 2018.

[3] Gümüsay, 2017.

[4] George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi, & Tihanyi, 2016.

[5] Ferraro, Etzion, & Gehman, 2015.

[6] Mair & Martí, 2006.

[7] Garud, Jain, & Tuertscher, 2008.

[8] Franzoni & Sauermann, 2014.

[9] Bauer & Gegenhuber, 2015; Boes, Kämpf, Langes, & Lühr, 2016.

[10] Morozov, 2015.

References

Bauer, R. M., & Gegenhuber, T. 2015. Crowdsourcing: Global search and the twisted roles of consumers and producers. Organization, 22(5): 661–681.

Boes, A., Kämpf, T., Langes, B., & Lühr, T. 2016. “Lean” und “agil” im Büro: Neue Formen der Organisation von Kopfarbeit in der digitalen Transformation, Working Paper Forschungsförderung. Düsseldorf: Hans-Böckler-Stiftung.

Botsman, R., & Rogers, R. 2010. Beyond zipcar: Collaborative consumption. Harvard Business Review, 88(10): 30.

Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. 2015. Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited. Organization Studies, 36(3): 363–390.

Franzoni, C., & Sauermann, H. 2014. Crowd science: The organization of scientific research in open collaborative projects. Research Policy, 43(1): 1–20.

Garud, R., Jain, S., & Tuertscher, P. 2008. Incomplete by Design and Designing for Incompleteness. Organization Studies, 29(3): 351–371.

George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. 2016. Understanding and Tackling Societal Grand Challenges through Management Research. Academy of Management Journal, 59(6): 1880–1895.

Gümüsay, A. A. 2017. Unpacking entrepreneurial opportunities: an institutional logics perspective. Innovation: Organization & Management, 1–14.

Gümüsay, A. A. 2018. COMMENTARY: Sharing is caring: From material to socio-material sharing. Academy of Management Discoveries. [Forthcoming]

Kornberger, M., Leixnering, S., Meyer, R., & Hoellerer, M. 2017. Rethinking the Sharing Economy: The Nature and Organization of Sharing in the 2015 Refugee Crisis. Academy of Management Discoveries. https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2016.0138.

Mair, J., & Martí, I. 2006. Social entrepreneurship research: A source of explanation, prediction, and delight. Journal of World Business, 41(1): 36–44.

O’Neil, C. 2016. Weapons of math destruction: how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. London: Allen Lane.

Pic: SDGs, circle, by UN WMO; edited.

Why it Doesn’t Matter that Facers are Annoying

By Jacob Schjødt.

You are walking down a high-traffic street in Copenhagen minding your own business. You’re thinking about the new pair of pants you’re about to buy. But then. About 30 meters ahead. You see something that immediately provokes a feeling of mild anxiety. You decide to take a detour, and walk to the very edge of the street. But it’s too late. You have already been spotted. A friendly looking young man with long hair, piercings and a big smile calls at you. ‘Is it me, he’s calling at?’ you ask yourself – hoping the answer to be ‘no’. But it is you. You have been caught. By a Facer.

What is a Facer?
In the most general sense, a Facer is a professional salesperson who sales products, services or memberships face-to-face. Facers are usually found on high-traffic shopping streets in large cities. Facers can take many forms and promote various causes, ranging from Scientology to insurance and memberships to charities. In this blog, I will only consider the latter, as you know them from Unicef, Amnesty, Care etc.

Why Facers are annoying
Usually when people talk about facers, they readily settle on the apparent fact that Facers are rather, if not very, annoying. And, in general, I agree with these people: Facers are annoying. They force you out of your comfort zone, they completely ignore your interests, and they ask you to consider something that is not at all related to your life. Facers force you into a situation in which you have to choose between two negative outcomes: 1) feel bad about not helping someone in need or 2) give away money that you had other plans with. Also, facers are fake. Facers pretend to like you, just to get your money. This creates an unfamiliar and unpleasant encounter in which it’s easy to feel that you have to be rude to maintain a sense of control. And the list goes on…

And Why it Doesn’t Matter That They Are
The situation is clear. Facers are super annoying. But to jump from this fact of reality to the conclusion, that one should not support their cause – or that it’s fine to talk ill of them – is a school book example of an ad hominem argument. Contrary to many other cases of ad hominem thinking, however, we can actually justify Facer’s annoying behaviour (assuming that we sympathize with the charity they are promoting).

A decent facer can sign up 3 new members on a 6 hour shift, and these member will donate around 75-150 DKK per month. A charity membership lasts about 1.5 years on average (an estimate), and a Facer makes around 120DKK per shift (depending on their salary model). If a Facer works 2 times per week, he/she will then make around 60.000 DKK in a year, and earn the charity well above 400.000 DKK. If you thought being annoying could save lives, wouldn’t you be annoying?

Beware of the Facer Fallacy
Our tendency to found moral arguments on unpleasant feelings is one of the most heavily supported claims in moral psychology (Haidt, 2001; 2012, Haidt et al., 2000; Greene, 2001; 2009; 2014). I think that Facer-bashing is a solid example thereof. I think that we too readily succumb to a ‘if the messenger is annoying, he cannot be on to something’, fallacy when it comes to Facers, and that we should make an effort to develop a more positive attitude towards these people and their work.

References

  • Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108(4), 814–834. https://doi.org/10.1037//0033-295X.108.4.814

  • Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind. Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion …, (January), 1–508. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

  • Haidt, J., Bjorklund, F., & Murphy, S. (2000). Moral dumbfounding: When intuiton finds no reason. Working Paper. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

  • Greene, J. (2014). Moral Tribes. Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them, 300. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

  • Greene, J. D., Sommerville, R. B., Nystrom, L. E., Darley, J. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science, 293(5537), 2105–2108. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1062872

  • Greene, J. D. (2009). Dual-process morality and the personal/impersonal distinction: A reply to McGuire, Langdon, Coltheart, and Mackenzie. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(3), 581–584. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2009.01.003

Jacob Schjødt is a Master student of Business Administration and Philosophy at CBS and Student assistant at CBS PRME. He has been responsible for organising the first Students for the Global Goals Festival at CBS on April 11, 2018. Follow CBS PRME on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Pic by Daniel Lombraña González, Unsplash. Edited by BOS.

Is CSR Effectively Altruistic?

By Lot Elshuis.

CSR is the part of a company that focusses on doing good. Interestingly enough, business is all about impact and effectiveness when it comes to the core of the business, but when strategies of doing good are developed and implemented there is often more concern for what sounds good than for the effectiveness and impact of their actions on recipients. Why is the rigor applied to core business activities often not applied to CSR-strategies as well?

Effective Altruism: Maximize impact, not feel-good moments
Effective Altruism takes exactly this approach. Kick-started by philosopher Peter Singer, Effective Altruism is a community that wants to change how ‘doing-good’ is often approached. First of all, Effective Altruism emphasizes that most people in developed countries, and especially those belonging to the richest 10% of the world population, have an outstanding opportunity to do good. We have won the lottery! Therefore we have the beautiful chance to add value to the lives of others.

Second of all, if we indeed want to take the opportunity to do good, we can do the most good by focusing on maximizing positive impact through applying scientific evidence and reason, instead of only looking at what sounds and feels good. Without thinking carefully about how exactly to do good, there is a risk of wasting important resources on things that do not work. Even worse is having the idea of doing good, while actually causing harm.

The Case of Play-Pumps International
Let me give an often-used example. Many developing-world communities are provided with water through hand-pumps. The social enterprise Play-Pumps International had the idea to replace these hand-pumps by merry-go-rounds, which would pump up water while children played on them. It seemed to be the ideal win-win situation. The enterprise received a grant from the US Government, a World Bank Development Marketplace award, and (it can’t get much better) a visit and sponsorship from rapper Jay-Z. However, sadly enough, the Play-Pumps didn’t have the positive impact that everyone assumed it had. One of the main problems was that the pumps needed constant force to obtain the water, which, obviously, made the kids tired. This often compelled the women of the communities to struggle to push the pumps. Moreover, the Play-Pumps were several times the cost of a hand-pump, which were able to pump more water an hour as well. (see Doing Good Better by William MacAskill for a more elaborate description of the case)

Rule of Thumb: Importance, Neglectedness, Tractability
Although Effective Altruism is focused on the individual who is willing to do good, we could apply the same to corporations who pursue CSR or social entrepreneurial strategies. Especially because effective altruists often focus on the cost-effectiveness of a cause or approach. This line of thought shouldn’t be unworldly to corporations, since cost-effective rationalizations are applied on a regular basis. An often-used rule of thumb by Effective Altruism for evaluating causes or approaches is assessing the following criteria:

  • Importance: What is the scale of the problem; how many people are affected and how deeply?
  • Neglectedness: Is there still enough opportunity to do good, or are a lot of other people already working on improvement in this field?
  • Tractability: Is there something practical you can do, with the possibility of succeeding?

By applying these criteria and looking for evidence through research, companies are likely to have a more profound impact on the area in which they want to do good.

Responsibility – but where?
As the name says, CSR is about responsibilities. Therefore, we might wonder whether companies who apply CSR actually have the responsibility to do the most good they can (with the same amount of time and money). Can we argue for saving lives in the poorest countries instead of improving the labor conditions of the workers in one’s own supply chain? While the former has a bigger impact, the latter might, to a greater extend, be in line with the more obvious responsibilities of the particular company. This is an interesting discussion, but unfortunately outside the scope of this post to deal with.

However, a lot of multinational organizations are already involved in causes that do not directly relate to their own supply chain. Google is for example awarding $1 billion in grants and contributes 1 million employee volunteer hours ‘to create more opportunity for everyone’. More specifically, H&M announced in a press release in September that they are donating $200,000 to Save the Children for “South Asia’s worst flooding in years”. From an effective altruist perspective, it would be rational to figure out, what the scale of this cause is at the moment, if there aren’t already a lot of other donors involved in this particular disaster relief in South Asia, and whether Save the Children can actually do something successfully about the situation of those affected by the floods. Accordingly, this could be compared to the measured impact of other causes to conclude where H&M’s, or Google’s, resources would be most valuable.

Impact before Marketing!
We all know that CSR is more often than not linked to marketing strategies. There is a high chance that H&M chose to donate to South Asia’s flooding because more potential consumers will be affected since they probably have heard about the flooding recently and were emotionally moved. However, this doesn’t have to pose a problem, because Effective Altruism is not per se about ‘selflessness’, although often used as definition for altruism. It is totally fine to feel good about doing good. In fact, it would be wonderful if everyone felt better by doing good, because then it is likely that more people will actually do good. Therefore, it would be all the more impactful if organizations started to market the impact of their causes, rather than doing and marketing what feels good. With that, consumers could support companies that do good effectively, instead of companies that scream the loudest without having a real positive impact on important cause areas.


Lot Elshuis is a MSc Candidate in Business Administration and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School. With a background in philosophy, her research interest is focused on discussions about the role and responsibility of business in society and the ethical dilemmas that these discussions entails. You can contact her on LinkedIn.

Pic by Diego PH, unsplash.

 

In Tribute: Malcolm McIntosh

 

‘Have fun and laugh. I had a ball. Sorry to go early. Laugh a lot, it oxygenizes the brain just as well as yoga. Malcolm McIntosh

Malcolm McIntosh’s words, quoted in an announcement of his passing on June 7, 2017, sent out by his family, epitomize how he lived his life. I first met Malcolm in the late 1990s when he was forwarding the then-new conversation about corporate citizenship through conferences and a center at the University of Warwick and later at Coventry. He came to academia non-traditionally, through careers in TV production and journalism with the BBC, with a PhD and lifelong interest in peace research that spread out to understanding corporate responsibility and citizenship and, more recently, political economy. In the early 2000s, he founded the Journal of Corporate Citizenship and served as its editor multiple times over the years, including several stints as part of team of guest editors, guiding it to be an outlet for big ideas that bridge from theory to practice, from empiricism to thought leadership. He was the founding director and Professor at Griffith University’s Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise in, Brisbane, Australia, where he served for five years.

Malcolm was a wonderful thinker, a polymath who followed his own path towards making the world a better place. A global citizen of the first order, there was little that he didn’t know about—from music to philosophy to sustainability to how the world actually works. He was a true intellectual shaman, and a serial social entrepreneur, who was always thinking forward to the next big thing that could serve—or perhaps save—the world. He was a pioneer in the conversation about corporate citizenship, political economy, sustainability, and human rights, who pulled few punches in telling it like he saw it, yet always did so with the most amazing sense of human and personal insight.

Malcolm fully embodied the three tasks of the intellectual shaman: healing, connecting, and sensemaking the service of a better world. As a healer, he was profoundly concerned about the state of the world, ecological, politically, and socially, and worked tirelessly to make a difference through his teaching, writing, and consulting. As a connector and global citizen, he bridged across boundaries of all sort, bringing people together in conversations and convenings that informed and enlightened. As a sensemaker and prolific author of more than 25 books and numerous articles, he engaged ideas and shared his insights as a public intellectual. And all of this work aimed at making the world a better place for all.

Malcolm recognized early on the potential of the UN’s Global Compact and, later, the Principles for Responsible Management Education, as levers for positive change in the world, engaging with those initiatives in a variety of ways. He always ‘thought forward,’ systemically, and with a keen sense of the need to bring about change in the world for the better. He brought many of his ideas to fruition in two of his last books Thinking the Twenty-First Century, and The Good Society, which will be published posthumously by Greenleaf.

What I will most remember about him, I suspect, is his spirit, his sense of life, his philosophy that we should, as his website says, ‘Love life, love the plant.’ Most of all I will remember his sense of humor, his prototypical intelligent British wit, his ability to laugh at his own situation, including facing his illness over the last years of his life. He was not afraid to die and he approached that possibility with the same wit he approached everything else. He was not afraid to die because he lived fully and enjoyed every minute of it, including his long marriage to Lou and his wonderful daughters Cleo and Sophie, the work that he did, and his many, many friends around the world. I will miss his spirit, his energy, and his healing presence in our world and also know that the good work that he did will live on.

Words by Sandra Waddock, Boston College, June 2017

How is Ayn Rand still a thing? From ridicule to serious concern

By Steen Vallentin.

A recent article in The Washington Post informs us that Donald Trump is affectionate about the works of Ayn Rand (1905-1982), often referred to as the ‘high priestess of selfishness’. He shares this affection with several of his members of cabinet. These include Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor, and Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA. The speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has also been an outspoken supporter of Rand, although he has recently distanced himself from her philosophy, citing its atheism as a fundamental concern (Rand famously viewed altruism as an evil form of self-sacrifice, and thus spoke against Christian values of giving and regard for others).

Trump has said that he identifies with Howard Roark, the main protagonist of Rand’s The Fountainhead, while Tillerson has listed Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s magnum opus, as his favorite book. The Fountainhead was made into a Hollywood movie in 1949, starring Gary Cooper as Roark, and this can of course lead one to speculate whether the president actually read the book or ‘just saw the movie’. This brand of speculation would, however, be typical of a tendency to ridicule rather than take Rand’s philosophy, its continued popularity and the influence it continues to have on the rich and the powerful seriously.

To name but a few examples of the ridicule: In 2009, the animated TV show The Simpsons had Lisa Simpson comment to her mother about The Fountainhead: “isn’t that the bible of right-wing losers?” In 2012, president Obama commented that Rand’s work is something that is picked up by teenagers that are “feeling mistunderstood”, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in 2014 dedicated a dismissive installment of “How is this still a thing?” to Rand’s work.

In popular treatments of her philosophy and the cult of personality that surrounded her, notions of ‘selfishness’, ‘greed’ and ‘objectivism’ are thrown around, but rarely with much argumentative depth. In scholarly circles, her work is often rejected as overly politicized ‘bad philosophy’, full of logical fallacies (and false distinctions), failing to constitute a coherent and closed system of thought (in spite of such pretense), and thus not deserving of more serious engagement. The literary form she uses in her major philosophical works also does not count in her favor among scholars. It can easily be dismissed as philosophical pulp fiction.

What I want to question here, however, is whether or how Rand’s work is deserving of more serious critical attention and treatment by those who are opposed to it. The idea is not to offer support or claim neutrality, but to lay bare the arguments presented in order to better understand and challenge their continued allure. In other words, Rand’s thinking continues to be an ideological force to be reckoned with, and we need to understand why and how it influences people, not least those in power.

Importantly, following Boltanski & Chiapello, the term ‘ideology’ should not be construed in the reductionist sense often suggested by Marxist uses, e.g., as a moralizing discourse intended to conceal material interests and constantly contradicted by practice, but rather as shared beliefs that are bound up with actions and hence anchored in reality. In other words, ideology must be considered as a practical concern with real effects (however loosely coupled with ideological precepts), not just as a mask veiling reality, a mode of deception or a sham.

Admittedly, Rand’s thinking is a hostile world to enter for non-believers. There are a number of reasons for this (apart from the endurance required to get through the 1100+ dogma-soaked pages of Atlas Shrugged). Objectivism is a closed philosophy, related to her mind’s work and reflecting her ideal world, a world that is often far removed from most people’s experience of the modern world. In spite of strong objectivist claims regarding Man’s mind and its relation to reality, her loyal followers often tend to ignore the obvious and to misrepresent reality when defending objectivist dogma. Objectivism is often associated with extreme/far-right political views, self-consciously flying in the face of political correctness and common morality and peddling the same sort of dystopian and polarizing view of the deterioration of American society that Trump campaigned on. However, the real ‘truth’ of Rand’s philosophy is to be found in her work, not in how various minions choose to carry her torch.

In Atlas Shrugged (1957), she creates a world in which industrialists, i.e., the prime movers, the makers, the traders, constitute a morally superior class of people. Opposed to these are the second handers, the takers, the looters, moochers, rotters of society. The industrialists represent everything that is good and capitalism everything that is proper in this world, but successful business people and proper market principles are persecuted by forces of envy and mediocrity operating under the flag of social responsibility. In Rand’s world, social responsibility is nothing but a battle cry for politically correct, collectivist-egalitarian and ultimately totalitarian schemes that are meant to keep great business people down by means of government interference and regulation. It is the way of the loser, who cannot make it in a man’s game of real market competition and who cannot cope with the innovative brilliance of the chosen few. Social responsibility and social welfare and progress are promoted by morally corrupt, hateful and obviously inferior people, whose actions are bereft of proper reason and any meaningful relation to reality.

In her depiction of an America that is falling apart due to lack of reason and totalitarianism, (and which in many ways more resembles her native Russia), Rand provides scathing critiques of the corrupted – and corrupting – forces of politics, government bureaucracy, science and media, the tyranny of public opinion and the lack of reason among the common people. Opposed to all this rot stands capitalism. To Rand, and her followers, capitalism pure and unadulterated is the solution to all imaginable ills of society. She offers a philosophy according to which selfishness and greed are virtues and nobody should ever feel ashamed about being successful.

We do not have to accept the claims of Rand’s philosophy or to sympathize with its underlying ideology to acknowledge that her dystopian world view has some resonance in regard to emla what we are living through right now. Besides, there is the matter of the continued influence of her thinking on the rich and the powerful. Atlas Shrugged portrays business people (the right kind) as innocent and by and large powerless victims of persecution and scapegoating perpetrated by a list of shameful characters ranging from government bureaucrats to spouses and family members. For one of the more extreme expressions of this message we can turn to a 1962 lecture where she asserted that: “In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessman” (quoted in Weiss, p. 53).

It is interesting how this perplexing narrative of persecution apparently continues to inspire extremely rich and successful people (the 1%) – in spite of all their success and all their well-documented power, and the fact that the societal view of business people and business as an institution has changed dramatically since Rand wrote her book.

In sum, Rand’s thinking is probably more a part of the problem than the solution to many of the crises we are facing, but it nevertheless call for more serious engagement – even by those radically opposed to her extreme view of the virtues of capitalism and everything that stands in its way. As the saying goes: keep your enemies closer …


Steen Vallentin is Director of the CBS Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (cbsCSR) and Associate Professor in the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School.

Pic of Rand by David Seaton, edited by BOS.

The Task At Hand: Facing a Trump America

The following post by American CBS MBA student Wynne Lewis is an accompanying piece she wrote recently for the Financial Times’ MBA Blog.

Titled “Case for responsible business post Trump and Brexit shocks“, Wynne spoke to the shocks of the recent inauguration of Mr. Trump in the U.S. and the vote for Brexit in the UK. She argues that these events are creating many setbacks to the strides we have taken recently in favour of human rights and combating climate change. But they are also catalysts for positive change for the individuals who are fired up and ready to go stand up for what matters most – for example by contributing to a more sustainable economy by founding your own venture.

Read the full post on the FT MBA Blog.

In her latest piece on the CBS MBA blog, she now offers a little bit of inspiration to get you started with making a change.


By Wynne Lewis.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

We fear regression, but there is much we can do.

I spoke with my classmates (representative of countries from all around the world), my professors, and visiting speakers and here is a little bit of inspiration to get you started.

For Employers / Employees:

  • Recognise the power of business. Do not be ignorant to your own influence. There is no such thing as an a-political corporation in the polarised climate under which we are operating today. Every decision must be intentional.
  • Create meaningful working class jobs. If your consumers are voting pro-nationalism, are they willing to pay a higher price for locally sourced products? Can you source your products or raw materials locally? Can you conduct market research to prove your case to investors? There may even be a risk management case to make for keeping the supply chain close for better transparency.
  • Treat your employees with respect and invest in their development. Look at the most recently hired/promoted people at your company. Are they a diverse group? Are you promoting from within? If not, chances are good that some of your talent is falling through the cracks or not being developed. It may not be intentional, but you can become aware of it and take strides to be sure you are capitalizing on your best resource – your employees.
  • If you have employees who may feel marginalised or unsafe in the current social climate sparked by the election, reach out and check-in with them. Do they feel safe in their commute to work? (This has been very relevant for many of my friends living in New York, so it is worth asking.) Is there anything you can do to help? Has the office climate changed at all for them? It is important that they are able to focus on doing a good job without feeling marginalised or harassed at work. Keep tabs on this. If handled with care, you will foster the establishment of a strong working environment and retain your talented minority (women included) workers.
  • Look for business opportunities. What was the change you were hoping for? Is there a gap in products/services today and the products/services we need to achieve that change? Your next great venture may just be hidden in the void.

You will know best how these things must ultimately align with a clear business case appropriate for your company, but it is important to point out those business practices that shape our countries, our politics, and ultimately our societies.

For Investors:

  • Divest from energy companies who are not investing in the future. Oil is booming right now with the recent elections, but the future will hold a diverse portfolio of energy sources. Companies who are only focused on fossil fuels are resisting innovation.
  • Be an active voter in the companies you invest in. If you hold stocks in companies that are doing things that you do not support – underpaying workers, polluting, vocalising racist sentiment – use your voice as a shareholder to change things. Be active and let them know that as an owner you do not support the way they are operating the business. Chances are high, you are not alone. Get other investors involved.
  • Invest in companies that are good for people, planet, and profit. There are many resources for those interested in impact investing. Read up and put your money where your values are.

On the personal side: invest in values you care about. Whatever they are, donate your time or money to the things that matter most. Create the world you want to live in and that you want your children to live in. Consider it a long-term investment.

The most important thing ultimately is to do something. So get out there, and be active.

Have some great ideas? Please add a comment below.


Based in New York, Wynne is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Copenhagen Business School. She was attracted to the Copenhagen MBA for its strong focus on Responsible Management and the promise of a global classroom. Post-MBA, she is toying with the idea of starting her own venture. She is a blogger for the Financial Times MBA blog, where she hopes to tell the story of what really powers her passion for Responsible Management on the far-reaching global business platform that is the Financial Times.

Pic by Pexels

CSR is Dead. Long Live CSR

By Andreas Rasche, Mette Morsing, and Jeremy Moon.

We – Andreas Rasche, Mette Morsing, and Jeremy Moon – just edited an international textbook entitled Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy, Communication, Governance (Cambridge University Press). When talking to people about the book, one common response was: “Why didn’t you just call it Corporate Sustainability? After all, this term is used by everybody these days…” In 2014, Peter Bakker, the President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, even declared: “CSR is dead. It’s over.” And Michael Porter and Mark Kramer made a very similar claim when pitching their “shared value” concept a couple of years earlier.

Mr Bakker’s main point was that CSR is mostly about philanthropy and that it is not properly embedded into business models yet. It is hard to disagree with this statement, but nevertheless neither Mr Bakker nor Mr Kramer and Professor Porter got to one point:

The core of the problem

First, if you do not have an antique understanding of CSR (as preached in the late 70s), you will recognize that it actually is about integrating firms’ social and environmental responsibilities in their value and supply chain activities as well as their business models. This is precisely what the entire debate on “strategic CSR” has been aiming at. Those companies who understand CSR in a contemporary way know that they have to integrate their responsibilities vis-à-vis society into everything they do; and this is not necessarily because they are environmentalists or social protagonists but because this is what society expects from them and this is what provides them with their license to operate.

However, simply changing labels from “CSR” to “Corporate Sustainability” won’t make firms more aware that their business models need to be aligned with their responsibilities vis-à-vis society. While Corporate Sustainability may enable a smoother dialogue between management scholars and economists and while it may also help to engage in dialogue with peers from the natural and technical sciences, it also blurs the importance of firms’ ethical responsibilities. In fact, one could argue that while the Corporate Sustainability language has increasingly helped to engage the investor community into what they label Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, it has also sidelined important ethical dilemmas that were once at the core of the debate.

Second, we should not too quickly disparage corporate philanthropy as an outdated concept. Currently, philanthropic contributions are a key driver of many partnerships in support of broader development goals such as the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Also, philanthropic contributions are often quite “strategic” – many firms directly benefit from such contributions, such as when charity investments in education secure a skilled future workforce. Also, many SMEs make strong philanthropic contributions to the local communities around them – for them CSR is a matter of personal values (often driven by the owner-manager).  Yet, this can bring benefits of employee motivation  (as, somewhat paradoxically, even Milton Friedman noted), social marketing and customer loyalty.

The bottom line: rationales, not labels

The core of the problem lies not so much in labels. It more profoundly lies in the challenges that systemic injustice, corruption, human rights and climate change pose for society and for business, and the resources and strategies that businesses bring to address them. Therefore, we should not focus too much on labels – labels come and labels go. But we should rather focus on ‘rationales’.

Actually, Chapter 2 of our book makes exactly this point. Corporations are often quickly relabelling and repackaging their engagement with responsible and sustainable business. What was formerly described as ethics was translated into CSR and now turns into Corporate Sustainability. In the future it may be given even another name. This is not to say that corporate practices are not changing. Actually, there is a lot of innovation around corporate sustainability and many firms have learned a great deal about which material issues need to be addressed. It is to say, however, that we should not simply throw away the “old” and believe that the “new” will be the Holy Grail.

In this sense, editing a textbook on “Corporate Social Responsibility” is a very timely undertaking. We cannot ignore the big societal challenges that are ahead of us, and by educating the business wo(men) of tomorrow we have to acknowledge that firms’ responsibilities have to be deliberately managed, regardless of whether we call this “CSR”, “corporate sustainability”, “shared value” or something else. We hope that our book will convey exactly this message.

CSR is a continuous journey

The point for us is this: Responsible and sustainable business has to be alive in our minds; it has to shape what we do, how we do it, and why do it. We have to look beyond and behind the different labels we ascribe to responsible business behavior. Truly engaging with a book is but one of the many important ways to achieve just that… CSR is a journey that has just begun and that continues to unfold on a daily basis.

Long live CSR!

Info: The book “Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy, Communication, Governance” edited by Andreas Rasche, Mette Morsing, and Jeremy Moon is available from 17 March 2017.


Andreas, Mette and Jeremy are editors-in-chief of the BOS Blog and Professors at Copenhagen Business School’s World Class Research Environment Governing Responsible Business.

Poster by Cambridge University Press.

US versus Him

By Catarina Pessanha Gomes.

The past months constituted the culmination of a sequence of events, completely unthinkable even one year ago. These events led to the inauguration of a man that many consider unfit for its position, a man demonstrating unprecedented levels of intolerance, bigotry and racism, a man questioning the foundation of our political system, separation of powers, free press, equality of rights, one tweet at the time.

Like many of us, my heart has been hesitating between a deep state of anxiety for its future decisions and a slight nausea when looking at its proclamation as Time’s person of the year. Yet, this got me thinking about the incongruity of reducing a whole sequence of events, times, peoples and places to a single individual, a troubled reflection of the individualistic tendencies of our societal and political system. While not dismissing the reality of asymmetrical power relations, the emphasis of this post is placed on the anonymous mass, the hidden collective power often forgotten by our political system, but also in our academic fields.

The common, collective, anonymous power is often left unstudied at the profit of the single individual, be it the President, the CEO or, in my academic field, the entrepreneur. Hence, I decided to put aside the overwhelming amount of research focusing on the personality of these special, heroic individuals, constituting a popular narrative of uniqueness and success, focusing instead on organizational studies calling for a comprehension of entrepreneurship in its everydayness, as a societal process with multiple actors and stakeholders rather than an individualistic phenomenon.

The sociologist Richard A. Peterson and Pardo´s studies open the door for considering entrepreneurship not as a special person or situation, but as an action commonly shared that can occur anytime. In this regard, the latter put forward a perspective on entrepreneurial moves through which citizens, here the popolino of Naples, create new possibilities in life, situating entrepreneurship beyond formal economy.  Recognizing this collective entrepreneurial action is the first step towards serious political changes, as our democratic system needs to be modified to recognize, listen and integrate this common potential in the political game as a legitimate form of power.

Lyotard states that the world is composed of events giving rise to multiple interpretations, and maybe I really needed a new storyline to help me cope with the current events; maybe I could not make sense of Donald Trump as the final expression of what our society can produce. Nevertheless, for the next four years, I will keep in mind that politics also lies on the everyday, collective power that change society in the shadows, the men and woman giving a hand, creating, collaborating, in organizations or in the anonymity of their own houses, making “US” the people of the year, one action at the time.


Catarina is a PhD Fellow at the Department of Management, Society & Innovation at Copenhagen Business School. Her PhD project investigates partnerships between social entrepreneurs and public institutions, with a particular focus on how social entrepreneurship can be institutionalized.

Pic by the Office of the President of the United State