We have produced influential research in the field. This has appeared in top scientific journals including Academy of Management Annals, Academy of Management Learning & Education, Academy of Management Review, Business & Society, Business Ethics Quarterly, Human Relations, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Marketing, Organization, Organization Science, and Organisation Studies.
The following is a selected list of our current research projects:
Conservation Finance and Indigenous Ecologies
In collaboration with researchers from Ivey Business School, Western University, Ontario and Chippewas of Thames First Nation, this research project investigates the design of a conservation impact bond aimed at restoring and protecting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous lands in the region of Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Using a community-based participatory research, it investigates how different Indigenous and non-Indigenous views of nature and conservation can be incorporated within financial instruments and their associated evaluation of impacts. For instance, how are financial expectations accommodated with the Indigenous perspectives and conservation science priorities? What is the governance process through which such financial instruments can enable the articulation and inclusion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships to the land? What is the role of financial value in the allocation of conservation efforts?
Indigenous Business Models of Sustainable Development
This is an interdisciplinary project led by the International Institute for Environment and Development and involves project partners and Indigenous communities from China, Peru, India and Kenya. These countries have large indigenous populations living in poverty and growing income inequality between indigenous and non-indigenous populations. At the same time these countries are facing challenges of unsustainable development and biodiversity loss, and need to find ways to promote transitions to sustainability. The project will enhance understanding of how to promote transition to sustainable and inclusive development - specifically, the role of community enterprises in achieving economic, social and environmental goals, and short value chains in tapping regional market opportunities (e.g. increasing demand for organic/ecological food from growing middle classes). It will conduct 4 in-depth case studies of indigenous enterprise models, and shed light on how successful
indigenous enterprises can be scaled up and adapted to different context, and the policies and approaches needed to promote this. Research findings are cogenerated with indigenous communities, policy makers, business experts and CSOs, based on rigorous and inclusive methods. The research will contribute to knowledge on how emerging indigenous business models and mixed economies contribute to Sustainable Development Goals.
Evaluating Multi-stakeholder Initiatives in the Extractive Industries
There are more than 800 ongoing conflicts involving the extractive industries (mining, oil and gas) and communities impacted by extractive activity, mainly in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The overall aim of this research project is to build a more community-based approach to natural resource extraction. Such a framework would identify and explain linkages between corporate strategies, government policies, civil society initiatives, community interests and achieved outcomes in both advanced and emerging economies. A key outcome of the project is to inform corporate strategy and government policy in developing community engagement practices that would achieve better results in terms of addressing community needs, thus reducing the potential for conflict.
Critically Examining Corporate Social Responsibility
Explaining Organisational Corruption
Evaluating the Outcomes of CSR projects in Odisha: A Multistakeholder Approach
This research project in collaboration with researchers from Xavier Institute of Management in Odisha, India investigates the outcomes of selected CSR projects that were implemented following the passage of legislation that requires large Indian companies to spend at least 2 percent of their profits every year on CSR initiatives. The state government of Odisha constituted a CSR council to institutionalize various CSR activities undertaken by corporations in the districts of the state. CSR projects are implemented with the involvement of state, market and civil society actors. This research project investigates the social, economic and environmental outcomes of selected CSR projects after their stated completion dates.
The Degrowth Project: Theoretical Perspectives on Organizations and Organizing in a Post-Growth Era.
This research project in collaboration with researchers from the University of South Florida, University of Victoria, University of Technology Sydney and International School of Management explores how society might disengage from the putative imperative of unbridled economic growth. The research explores revised notions of fiduciary responsibility, fundamentally different forms of organizing (e.g., B corporations, social enterprises, the resurgence of cooperatives), and firms engaged in developing the circular economy. It also focuses on the role played by organizational cultures, structures, technologies, human resource ideologies, environmental management practices, and processes of organizational change--first in sustaining the traditional growth paradigm, and second in framing and bringing alternative paradigms forward.
Developing Sustainable Enterprises in Cuba
This research project in collaboration with researchers from the University of Havana investigates the performance of enterprise networks in creating sustainable enterprises in Cuba. As an economy in transition, Cuba faces significant challenges in transforming its economy from a centrally planned state economy to a market economy. The government has implement a series of reforms aimed at opening up the economy and expanding the non-state sector. Expansion of the economy will inevitably be accompanied by environmental and social problems and the country faces key sustainability challenges in transiting to a market economy. The government has set up a network of enterprises designed to attract foreign investment and develop local enterprises, while maintaining a focus on sustainability. Through in-depth interviews with key stakeholders the project will identify challenges and opportunities arising from developing enterprises in Cuba as well as assess the extent of integration of social and environmental concerns into enterprise goals.
Building ethical cultures in finance
Socially responsible operations
Power Dynamics in Global Production Networks: Insights from the Apparel Industry in Bangladesh
Consolidating Micro-CSR: Psychological and Sociological Microfoundations
This research project, conducted in partnership with researchers from the University of Toulouse 1 Capitole in France, Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and Vrije University in The Netherlands, studies the psychological and sociological processes whereby individuals perceive or engage with corporations' CSR initiatives and react upon these perceptions within and outside the workplace. Although corporations have increased their investments in CSR with the assumption that this will trigger positive attitudes and behaviors from their employees, relatively little is known about how individuals engage with CSR initiatives in distinct ways, either as CSR professionals, employees actively promoting CSR or simply reacting to what they perceive of their organizational CSR initiatives. This project aims at consolidating the psychological as well as the sociological micro-foundations of CSR by delivering a threefold contribution. First, it conceptualizes the distinction between psychological and sociological micro-CSR and maps systematically these two subfields of studies. Second, it consolidates prior empirical studies of psychological micro-CSR through meta-analytic techniques to evaluate current knowledge. Third and finally, it unpacks the multilevel processes whereby employees react to CSR both at the individual and business-unit levels of analysis and investigates the interplay between both processes. Led by Professor Jean-Pascal Gond.
Making Sense of the Work of CSR Professionals
This project encompasses collaborations with researchers from Queen Mary University, the University of Bath and Newcastle Business School that all focus on the new CSR professionals. These studies seek to make sense of this emerging process of CSR professionalization and to investigate how these new professionals make sense of their occupational mandate and of CSR. Empirical studies in various fields such as CSR management in Korea, CSR consultancy in Greece, or the field of CSR professionals in the UK seek, will help develop an understanding how these practitioners make sense of the meaning of CSR, deal with tensions and paradoxes inherent to CSR in the context of financialized capitalism, and construct and enact new ‘socially responsible’ professional identities. This project will also analyze the broader field-level dynamics of CSR professionalization.
Policy Challenges in Philanthropic Foundations' International Scholarship Programmes for Palestinian Students: A Documentary Review
Jenny Harrow and Yunus Sola (2022)
Policy Challenges in Philanthropic Foundations' International Scholarship Programmes for Palestinian Students: A Documentary Review
This study explores policy challenges of selected philanthropic foundations providing international scholarship programmes for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, (OPT), through research on policy documents in the public domain. Supported by Research England’s Global Challenges Research Fund, its context is Target 4b of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aspires to “increase support for scholarships available to developing countries”.
Such support may be a humanitarian and/or solidarity act; yet also capable of being detrimental to those countries, if non-returning scholars represent ‘brain drain’; and those not selected experience ‘motivation drain’. A policy mapping approach suggested highly ‘’standard’ programmes operating in non-standard higher education environments,where the constrained realities of young people’s lives in the OPT were accepted; paradoxically creating a higher education ‘normality’ ,as experienced by scholarship award holders.
Each organisation studied was battling the complex, highly limiting features of OPT life. Allowing for documentary gaps, ambiguities and imbalances, these documents alone highlighted the rewards but also the risks of international scholarship provision through philanthropy. Also, the importance of philanthropic organisations remaining alert to the shifting policy consequences – both valuable and problematic – that accompany such provision.
International grant-making policy in philanthropy in the UK Muslim context
Cathy Pharoah, Ikhlaq Hussain and Jenny Harrow (2021)
Philanthropic international aid has a vital place in how we respond to today’s deepening global crises, but its growth and development is hampered by a lack of evidence on the challenges and approaches of international grant-making.
Foundation Giving Trends 2021
Catherine Walker and Cathy Pharoah
This is the thirteenth annual research report on leading UK foundations’ giving trends and assets, and was produced by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), London in association with CGAP and the Researchery. It was funded by the Pears Foundation. The results set a benchmark which shows high spending by charitable foundations in the year before the pandemic (2019/20), with an early and imaginative response to the emerging needs of the charity sector as the COVID19 Lockdown hit fundraising, income generation and service delivery.
Watch the podcast discussion of the results with Richard Hebditch (ACF), Prof Cathy Pharoah and Dr Catherine Walker.
A brief interim report on key results for 2018/19 is also available.
Reframing the Ask 2021 - pointers to future giving and fundraising
Cathy Pharoah and Tom MacKenzie (2021)
This is the second paper in a series produced between Bayes Business School, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIOF) and CBS International Business School on the wider socio-economic trends shaping giving and fundraising in the post-COVID recovery period. It focuses on new data and analysis on individual and household giving, on the use of giving tax reliefs and on pandemic changes in consumer behaviour likely to have a lasting influence on how we give.
Strengthening Non-Profit Knowledge Sharing in a Conflict Zone: A Pilot Study in the Occupied Palestinian Territories - Gaza
Jenny Harrow, Yunus Sola
This pilot research explores social resilience and organisational knowledge sharing opportunities among a group of young women trainees on an innovative entrepreneurial programme in Gaza, the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Contributing to calls for NGO beneficiary voices’ inclusion in organisational knowledge sharing debates, it demonstrates and reflects on the complexities of organisational knowledge sharing and learning for NGOs and their beneficiaries in conflict zones,
Participators in training from GGateway, a women-led social business hybrid, operating in the digital economy to expand Gaza’s business, trainees’ self-reports in early 2021 presented confidence - building senses of fortitude, and commitment to Gaza arising from transformative training and employment opportunities.In the aftermath of the upsurge in conflict and violence in May 2021, affecting Gaza acutely, those senses diminished significantly, , notwithstanding GGateway’s training’s achievements. Trainees’ plans to leave Gaza (even if that were possible) were now contemplated, since “where will we hide next time?”
The research was conducted with GGateway as a research partner, and supported by Research England, through the Global Challenges Research Fund. It suggests and begins to explore the emergence of new dimensions in organisational knowledge sharing, hitherto largely understood as and advocated as a construct operating in stable, safe settings. Reflections include its findings’ implications for funders, and the extent of their expectations of personal and organisational fortitude and continuing resilience in their support of NGOs in conflict zones, as part of funders’ own sustainability agendas.
Unpacking the Microfoundations of Shareholder Activism on Sustainability Issues
This project builds on and extends prior engagement activities with the United Nations supported Principle for Responsible Investment (PRI) and, in partnership with researchers from Erasmus and Groningen Universities (NL), focuses on the actual practice of institutional investors’ shareholder engagement of companies on environmental, social or governance (ESG) issues. Its aim is to unpack the communicational, knowledge and political dynamics structuring corporate-investor interactions around ESG issues, to clarify the organizational and coalition-levels boundary conditions that explain the effectiveness of such actions, to specify which combinations of micro-practices are the more likely to trigger corporate-level change in ESG performance. Methodologically, our analyses combine qualitative, quantitative as well as fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative methods to better understand how shareholder activism on ESG issues actually work in practice and how its effectiveness can be improved.
The Sustainability of the Entrepreneurship Industry
This project looks at the rise of the ‘entrepreneurship industry’ and the impact it has on ventures, individuals as well as the wider economy. In particular, it examines the factors which have led to the expansion of a whole industry offering would-be entrepreneurs support of various kinds. The project is being run jointly with Rasmus Hartmann (Copenhagen Business School) and Anders Dhal Krabbe (Stanford University). The first working paper has been widely circulated and discussed by key figures in Silicon Valley.
Corporate and Institutional Strategies for Climate Change: An International Comparative Analysis
The Coming Workers Society?
The wellness economy
This project looks at the rise of 'the wellness economy'. It explores how a new market sector has been created out of what were previously considered to be marginal new age practices. Some examples include mindfulness, yoga, life coaching, various diets, happiness interventions and the like. In particular, it explores how many of these practices have been imported into the workplace, how they are being used to manage our everyday lives and how governments are using them as interventions. It also looks at how these are interventions are being increasingly linked with technology, through aspects like the quantified self movement. The project explores is particularly interested in looking at the darker side of these interventions, and how they might give rise to new pathologies. The project a collaboration with Carl Cederstrom from Stockholm University. It has led to two books (The Wellness Syndrome, Desperately Seeking Self Improvement) which have book been widely reviewed in the international media. Spicer and Cederstrom have presented on the topic to a wide range of audiences including TEDx events, Universities around the world as well as foundations and leading cultural institutions. The work has been featured in place like Harvard Business Review, the New Yorker, Financial Times and much more.
Led by Professor Andre Spicer
Constructing the markets for virtue: The visible hands of CSR consultants and their engineering role in the commodification of CSR
Evolving supply contracts towards sustainability
Sustainability reporting and financial performance
Pathologies of Knowledge Work: Bullshit and Stupidity in organizations
This long running project looks at the pathological aspects of knowledge work and the knowledge economy. In particular, it examines how knowledge intensive firms can generate stupidity and empty rhetoric (or Bullshit). It examines how these processes can make many organisations unsustainable. The project is run jointly with Mats Alvesson (Lund University). It has resulted in two books (Business Bullshit and The Stupidity Paradox). Both have been reviewed and discussed extensively in the international media and polict circles. The Stupidity Paradox was on the Prime Minister of Australia’s summer reading list. Spicer has presented work from this project in universities, businesses and cultural instituotions around the world.
Led by Andre Spicer.
Making social movements more effective
This project builds on Spicer’s long running work on the organisation of social movements. It explores what makes some social movement tactics more effectively than others. It has mainly involved influential interventions in the public debate around movements like Extinction Rebellion. We have However, we have also provided some advice to social movements about how they can craft their message to reach out beyond their core audience.
Led by Andre Spicer
The Modern Corporation Project
Social and Cultural Factors in Indigenous Enterprise Management and Governance
Transnational Politics and Transnational Governance
Transnational and Translocal Resistance Movements in the Extractives Industry
Shareholder activism and the diffusion of responsible corporate governance practices
The critical corporation project
Constructing and Regulating Sustainable Finance
Developed in partnership with scholars from Audencia (France), Nottingham Trent University (UK) and Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden), this set of projects aims at clarifying the regulatory and epistemological dynamics underlying the rise of sustainable finance. On the regulatory side, this project focuses on the orchestration of governmental regulations in the domain of sustainable investing in France, as well as on the deliberative processes underlying the production of European-level regulations for sustainable finance. On the epistemological side, it focuses on the relationships between knowledge and practice of shareholder activism on sustainability issues, as well as on the enablers and barriers to the institutionalization of a dedicated ‘sustainable finance’ corpus of knowledge in academia.
Governing Corporate Sustainability through Metrics?
This project aims at exploring the various mechanisms underlying the uses of quantification to promote corporate sustainable behavior and/or shame irresponsible behavior. It includes projects with Groningen University focused on explaining the influence of, and resistance to, sustainability metrics—such as sustainability financial indices or CSR/ESG ratings—by considering more closely how metrics producers and evaluated organizations interact. This project also explores the value of various forms of stat-activism—the process by which activist groups can mobilize metrics—to trigger effective corporate or regulatory shift towards more sustainable practices. An going study in partnership with Birmingham University and the University of Sydney Business School focuses in particular on the role of statactivism in the promotion of tax justice in Australia.