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Moral Business

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Moral Business Changing Corporate Behaviour by Speaking Their Language Kevin Gillan Lecturer in Sociology University of Manchester kevin.gillan_at_manchester.ac.uk – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Moral Business


1
Moral Business
Changing Corporate Behaviour by Speaking Their
Language
Kevin Gillan Lecturer in Sociology University of
Manchester kevin.gillan_at_manchester.ac.uk
2
Overview
  • Case outline the Reed campaign
  • Scholarship on impacts of movements
  • Conceptualising the target
  • The 'industry opportunity structure'
  • Corporations and stakeholders
  • Two ingredients of success
  • Mobilising the stakeholder network
  • Connecting with corporate culture
  • Summary hypotheses

3
The Arms Trade Problem
  • Who are Reed Elsevier?
  • Global publishing and business information
    company 1.3 billion profit in 2008
  • Academic publications include The Lancet, Grays
    Anatomy and hundreds of journals in many
    disciplines
  • Business information services include trade
    exhibitions
  • Whats the problem?
  • 2001 RE bought a portfolio of arms exhibitions
    from Spearhead, included DSEi in London
  • Exhibitions drew protest because of proliferation
    of weapons of all kinds, willingness of fairs to
    invite delegates from countries at war, and
    evidence that exhibitors were breaking
    international treaties (e.g. on landmines)
  • Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) identified
    RE as a good company with an arms trade problem

4
Reed Elseviers Responses
The selling of equipment and services for
national defence is legal and government
supported Reed Elsevier does not intend to
adjust its policy and will continue to run DSEi
as part of its portfolio of business
exhibitions. (Letter from Stephen Cowden,
Company Secretary, July 2005)
it has become increasingly clear that growing
numbers of important customers and authors have
very real concerns about our involvement in the
defence exhibitions business. We have listened
closely to these concerns. (RE Press Release
announcing exit of defence sector, June 2007.)
May 2008 RE completes sale of arms shows to
Clarion Events
5
Tactics
  • Regular protests at arms fairs (ongoing since
    before REs involvement)
  • Letter writing to RE from CAAT supporters
  • Attendance at AGMs
  • Protest at RE organised exhibitions
  • Publication of letters from high profile
    professional groups (medics, authors)
  • Critical editorials in RE journals (including the
    Lancet)
  • Online petition by academics and pledge to
    boycott journals
  • Threats (and action) by ethical investors to
    divest from RE

6
Studying Movement Success I
  • Some difficulties highlighted in the literature
  • Success indefinable (multiple goals)
  • Difficult to prove causal efficacy (alternative
    explanations through other actors etc)
  • Need to focus more broadly on impacts (because of
    unintended consequences)
  • Need to look for long term consequences
  • These are eased somewhat by focus on a campaign
    rather than a movement. Campaign focus valuable
    here because
  • Clear, short-term goals
  • Inclusion of groups that arent involved in
    broader anti-arms trade movement

7
Studying Movement Success II
  • Suggestions for determinants of success
  • Strategic decisions (limited demands, disruption,
    ability to respond quickly to circumstances)
  • Organizational factors (resources, elite allies,
    professionalization)
  • Cultural factors (production and communication of
    resonant frames)
  • But, contradictory findings on all of these.
    Giugni's (1998) response is to highlight context
    as conditioning the causal processes indicated by
    the above. Context includes
  • Public opinion when activated by movements and
    mediated through mainstream news media.
  • Political opportunity structures
  • But, how applicable to anti-corporate campaigns?

8
Schurman's 'industry opportunity structure'
  • Environmental variables determining possibilities
    for impact when targeting corporations are
    different from those usually indicated in POS
  • Includes four main elements
  • Conditions of competition within industry
  • Relationships within wider organisational field
    (c.f. stakeholder network)
  • Corporate culture (discourses, normative
    commitments, frames,etc)
  • Nature of particular business commodity
  • (Schurman, 2004, 'Fighting Frankenfoods' in
    Social Problems 51(2))

9
Stakeholder theory of the corporation
  • An alternative to the dominant 'shareholder
    value' model of corporate responsibility
  • Business ethicists see stakeholder as 'any group
    or individual who can affect or is affected by
    the organization's objectives' (Freeman 1984)
  • Increasingly popular with corporate management
    developing ideas of social responsibility and
    corporate citizenship
  • Sees corporation at centre of a network of
    different kinds of relationships with customers,
    employees, suppliers, local communities etc.
  • Most literature on this is either purely
    philosophical in nature or addresses questions of
    the business case for taking account of
    stakeholders.

10
Core campaign network
CAAT reps
Independent academics
Medact rep
Lancet employee
11
Developed campaign network
CAAT supporters
Personal academic networks
CAAT reps
Independent academics
Medact rep
Lancet employee
Lancet authors, reviewers, readers
Medact supporters
12
Claims making in public
CAAT supporters
Personal academic networks
Core campaigners
Lancet authors, reviewers, readers
Medact supporters
13
Claims making in public and private
CAAT supporters
Personal academic networks
Core campaigners
Lancet authors, reviewers, readers
Medact supporters
14
Money or morality?
  • 'To be frank, they were relatively small
    shareholders, but it certainly achieved an effect
    in terms of being recognised internally'
  • 'ultimately it was just pure ethics to those
    stakeholders'
  • 'it was incumbent upon us to react in the face
    of stakeholders'
  • (RE management, interview)
  • 'We had a lot of worry about how much you can
    damage their reputation in a moral sense,
    compared to how much you can damage it in a
    financial sense... But it was obviously an
    unfounded worry because actually, they were
    worried about their moral reputation.'
  • (CAAT campaigner)

15
Speaking their language I
  • If we can say (tentatively) that moral concerns
    make an impact, then how does that occur?
  • Corporate cultures composed of
  • Value and vision statements (strategically)
    created by corporate management
  • Beliefs and practices developed in interactions
    for collective activity
  • Particular reflection of wider normative
    justifications of capitalistic activity
    (Boltanski Chiapello)
  • These comprise the normative commitments the
    corporation has made. Constrain the possible
    decisions of executive boards.

16
Speaking their language II
  • RE had already made a number of commitments to
    corporate responsibility
  • Signatory to (and active promoter of) UN Global
    Compact
  • Statement of values and 'Sir Crispin's Open Door'
  • Belief that 'I don't think we would want to do
    anything in private that we wouldn't want a
    spotlight shined on certainly nothing in
    opposition to our code of ethics' (RE manager)
  • Campaigners had to address these commitments
    directly, and took 'a conscious decision to speak
    to them in their own language And what I found
    really amazing was that their press release used
    our language' (CAAT campaigner)

17
Summary hypotheses
  • Campaigns representing a wide selection of
    corporate stakeholder networks are more likely to
    succeed.
  • Strategies sensitive to the nature of particular
    relationships to target corporation are more
    likely to succeed.
  • Corporate responses to movements are constrained
    by the narratives they portray about themselves.
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