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

Information about upcoming R:ETRO seminars and links to recordings and abstracts from past seminars. For further information or to be added to the mailing list, email reputation@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Hilary term 2023

Monday 16 January 4-5pm (GMT) - 'Abiding by morality within the neoclassical theory of the firm’

With Santiago Mejia, Assistant Professor Law and Ethics, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

Abstract: Neoclassical accounts of the theory of the firm have been valuable in helping us understand the economic principles that explain how various rights are assigned to the different constituencies of the firm. This neoclassical analysis starts from the assumption that all of the firm’s constituencies are necessary for its success, and none has any prima facie priority over the others. The privileged status of the constituency granted formal ownership rights is explained by the fact that this is the most efficient allocation of rights, that this allocation of rights maximizes the aggregate net benefits that the firm provides to all of its constituents. It is natural to assume (and the scholarship has typically assumed it) that the constituency granted formal ownership rights should be responsible for what one may call the moral control of the firm, i.e., the power to ensure that the firm’s activities conform with moral norms. As I show in this paper, a close examination of the neoclassical account of the theory of the firm shows that this conclusion is unwarranted. If we want our companies not merely to be efficient but also to abide by moral norms, the constituency with strategic control of the firm should not, in most cases, be also responsible for the moral control of the firm.

Monday 13 February 4-5pm (GMT) - ‘One price tag for impacts - a critical reflection on the standardization of impact measurement and valuation’

With Laura Edinger-Schons, Professor of Sustainable Management, University of Mannheim 

Abstract: In the quest for transparency about sustainability impacts of corporations, various initiatives are developing and piloting methods of impact measurement and valuation, i.e., the assignment of monetary values to their positive as well as negative impacts on people and the environment. In this seminar, I propose to discuss the process of quantification and standardization of sustainability impacts with a special focus on its potential ambivalence. While quantification and standardization promise to bring the unseen into the light and urge managers to take sustainability impacts into account when steering their companies, the idea of standardization has reached a myth-like status and implies the possibility of one central viewpoint on the value of impacts which neglects the multiplicity of worldviews and value judgments. I argue that the process of method development and standardization which is currently underway lacks widespread participation and, as a consequence, could be viewed as a form of epistemic neocolonialism. Further, the omnipresent call for standardization can be argued to counter the need for distributed experimentation which has been called for to address grand challenges like sustainability issues. I invite the group to reflect on our role as academic community in co-developing such standards and the potential meta-insensitivity which we might want to be cautious of.

Monday 27 February 4-5pm (GMT) - 'Toward a global stakeholder capitalism'

With Ed Freeman, University Professor; Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration, University of Virginia  

Abstract: The purpose of this talk is to delineate four ways to understand the movement to stakeholder capitalism that is emerging around the world. There are important differences in how this crucial idea is being understood, or often, misunderstood. In addition, there are five underlying issues that must be addressed by any revision to the dominant story of business. The challenges involved in these five issues are substantial and call for new methods for business and business schools.

Links to view these webinars will be posted here soon.

Past seminars

Michaelmas term 2022

Seeking Justice: Access to remedy for corporate human rights abuse 

Tricia Olsen, Associate Professor of Business Ethics & Legal Studies, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

Does AI threaten human moral agency? A first-person ethics perspective 

Marta Rocchi, Assistant Professor in Corporate Governance and Business Ethics, DCU Business School, Dublin City University 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract

Read all about it? Media coverage, stigmatization and company responses in the wake of corporate scandals (with Ralf Barkemeyer, Lutz Preuss, Olivier Gergaud, and Christophe Faugere)

Arno Kourula, Professor of Business & Sustainability, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Amsterdam  

Watch the seminar and read the abstract 

Experts, deliberation, and 'An enemy of the people'

Daniel Arenas, Professor, Department of Society, Politics and Sustainability, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University 

Watch the seminar and read the abstract

R:ETRO seminars from previous years: