Business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Our research into corporate responsibility and business ethics helps us to understand how we can promote a more responsible business culture.
It enables us to understand the role that corporate responsibility engagement plays in corporate strategy – and to demonstrate how companies are benefiting from going beyond simply 'being good' and willingly deploying plenty of corporate resources to corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
CSR is a broad business concept that describes a company's commitment to carry out their business in an ethical and sustainable way, taking into account the economical, social and environmental impact of managing their business activities. This could take the form of business considering their environmental footprint, sourcing materials responsibly, and ensuring fair working conditions for employees.
It also considers contributions to society – educational and social programmes, such as employee volunteering, and partnerships with charities, NGOs, Universities and government organisations.
Our research in the field is vital, because corporate irresponsibility threatens environmental sustainability – such as in the case of BP and the Deep Horizon oil spill, Volkswagen's emission cheating, and Coca-Cola's depletion of aquifers in India – and poses a risk to human health and wellbeing, as evidence by the Rana Plaza disaster, modern slavery and child labour.
Our research covers the following topics
- Study of social and organisational change
- Social memory and forgetting- and its links with corporate responsibility and irresponsibility
- Philosophical aspects of dialogue theory
- Concrete applications of dialogue within cross-organisational collaborations for sustainable development
- The intersection between civil society and business, with a particular focus on the role of the fair trade movement
- Gender equality in organisations
- Application of the triple bottom line
- Corporate community involvement in the emerging markets
To understand stakeholder perceptions and beliefs around CSR, we use quantitative research methods, such as regression analysis to measure the impact of CSR initiatives, and qualitative research methods including theme analysis, grounded theory, ethnography, phenomenology, and discourse analysis.
Collaborations and partnerships
We're conducting research with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has potential to deliver impact for stakeholders as part of a strategic review of the alignment between Circular Economy principles and Fair Trade policy and certification standards.
We have a knowledge transfer partnership with Fair Trade Advocacy Office in Brussels providing internship opportunities, and we're also an Evaluation Committee member for European Commission ‘EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award’.
Projects and publications
Our work is regularly published in leading journals and publications within the field, including the Journal of Business Ethics, Business Ethics Quarterly, Business & Society, and Business, Peace and Sustainable Development.
- Hosting the Fair Trade International Symposium, in June 2018
- Turning irresponsibility into responsibility — how communities can leverage collective memories of corporate irresponsibility to produce responsible actors – this project is in progress, with £40,000 secured for recruiting a doctoral researcher
Discover our areas of expertise
We're exploring the nature of leadership and management, and the cultures and practices which influence how people are led and work within organisations of all sizes.
Through our work in this area of expertise, we're helping organisations work out how best to design learning and skills development into everyday work processes.
Interested in a PhD in Human Resource Management?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Human Resource Management postgraduate research degrees page.