April 25, 2012, by ICCSR

CSR Futures: Knowledge and Practice

Recent ICCSR symposiums and conferences have addressed more narrow topics such as: ‘Business, Government and CSR’; ‘Comparative CSR’; ‘Learning about Responsible Business from Stakeholders’; ‘Corporations and Human Rights’; and ‘Corporate Innovation and Sustainable Community Development’, ‘Stakeholder Democracy’.  Others, in partnership with our colleagues at Nottingham’s Malaysia and China campuses, have addressed regional questions: ‘CSR in China’ and ‘CSR Agendas for Asia’.

This year, the occasion of our tenth birthday, we decided to return to broader questions about where CSR is going in terms of knowledge and practice, which inevitably involves some reflection on the last decade, decades and century of CSR… if history teaches us anything… 

However, many CSR dynamics of the last decade were not predictable on the basis of retrospection alone.  These dynamics reflect new trends, issues and events posing questions about business responsibility; new stakeholder expectations; and new international interactions of business and different social, political and legal systems … also dynamic.  So how can we be sure about CSR futures?

We can be sure of a few things.  CSR, and such cognates as business ethics, corporate citizenship and sustainability, appear to have become more firmly established among companies (or is this simply ‘window-dressing’?), their stakeholders and critics and, paradoxically to some, among regulators.  For all the company, community and business system specificity of CSR agendas, some abiding themes of CSR can be noted, e.g.: the power of business, its mutual dependency on society, accountability, and the sustainability of the systems in which it operates.

The conference brings together a rich variety of participants equipped and eager to consider further our core question of CSR futures.  The first keynote, Clare Short, has first- hand experience as a government Minister in such initiatives as the UK’s Ethical Trade Initiative and latterly as Chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  Tom Donaldson is one of the leading contributors to debates about business ethics and also has practitioner insights, not least through his Chairmanship of the US FTSE4Good Committee.  Ruth Aguilera has made pioneering academic contributions, particularly in CSR’s comparative dimensions and links with corporate governance.

The Practitioner Panel brings insights from a number of pivotal vantage points.  These include companies (Vicky Bullivant), investors (Will Oulton), NGOs (Gerry Boyle), CSR associations and institutions (Thomas Thomas), and consultancies (David Logan and Justin Keeble).

Our Academic Panel brings a variety of expertise, including business ethics (Andy Crane), corporate citizenship (Dirk Matten), sociological approaches to CSR (Jean-Pascal Gond), sustainability (Ken Starkey) and Middle East and North African experiences (Dima Jamali).

The parallel streams reflect current interests of the ICCSR team: Asian CSR and its Dynamics; Beyond the Attitude-Behaviour Gap: Novel Perspectives on Consumer Ethics; Business and Development: Moving Forward on MDGSs;
CSR Context and Dynamics; CSR & Governance: Comparative and International Perspectives; CSR Impact: Beyond Financial Performance; Leadership for Sustainability; Organisations in Transition – Exploring the Role of Accounting and Reporting for Organisational Change toward Sustainability.

It is reassuring that these streams and the overall conference theme have struck a cord and attracted your interest.  As a result we have about sixty papers being presented.  These papers come from a great variety of countries, institutions and perspectives.

Overall we have about one hundred and sixty delegates from thirty three different countries and from every continent.  Thank you for helping us to be international in substance as well as in name.


All the plenary sessions from this conference will be webcast.  To join the webcast visit: http://uni-of-nottingham.adobeconnect.com/csrf  select guest and enter your name.  Through the site you will also be able to interact via the chat area, and propose questions or comments for the panels.

Please note all times below correspond to British Summer Time (GMT +1).


9.30 – 10.20        Right and Hon. Clare Short Chair Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
10.40 – 12.30      Practitioner Panel 


9.15 – 10.05        Professor Tom Donaldson, Mark O. Winkelman Professor in Ethics & Law at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
12.10 – 13.00      Professor Ruth Aguilera, Associate Professor in Business Administration, Labor, Industrial Relations, Sociology & Law, University of Illinois
15.15 – 16.30      Academic Panel

Image taken by Andrew Hallsworth, copyright University of Nottingham 

Posted in EVENTS at the ICCSR