The Enigma of the “Responsible” Corporation – Sydney Ideas

Tuesday 18 February 2014

This event has passed


Law School LT 024, L0, Sydney Law School, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney



Co-presented with the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney Business School and the Sydney Environment Institute

Examining the history of (CSR) and the future of corporate engagement with societal needs?

Corporations are conceived as legal persons that engage in the combination of production factors with the goal of providing a maximum return to those who provided the money to make this happen in the first place. At least that is the legal structure they have in most parts of the global economy. However, looking at how corporations now present themselves provides a puzzling picture. In their self-representations, corporations appear very concerned with their responsibility to society; their contribution to global warming, their impact on indigenous populations, and a lot more issues. This contrasts with their initial remit of just ‘making money’. Corporations, which should just care about profits and economics, appear to have suddenly turned into ‘do gooders’.

In this lecture I examine the history of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and look at three important questions. Why has it emerged? What has it really achieved? And, what is the future of corporate engagement with societal needs?

Professor Dirk Matten holds the Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility and is a Professor of Strategy at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of London, the University of Nottingham and at Sabancý University in Istanbul. His work has appeared in journals including Academy of Management Review,Journal of Management Studies, Organization Studies, British Journal of Management, The Geneva Papers and Human Relations. His 14 books and more than 100 articles have won numerous international awards including the Carolyn Dexter Best International Paper Award of the Academy of Management Conference. He also won the Max Weber Award of the Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft for his bestselling textbook on Business Ethics (with Andy Crane, OUP). He is on the editorial board of many journals including Business Ethics Quarterly.

Dirk Matten appears on Life Matters