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Future of the Corporation Research - Social Benefit

The relationship between corporations and civil society has often been characterised as being primarily antagonistic, but are businesses recognising and welcoming the role that NGOs and social enterprises can play in alerting them to the fault-lines between companies and society that may impact on them in the future? What role do NGOs and social enterprises play in promoting the concept of social innovation and ethical, sustainable trading? Are certain types and sizes of businesses more easily held to account by society? How does the type of business affect its relationship with the community it operates within and how can businesses learn from each other? Is there a link between expert and public responsibility? How do business structures, governance and leadership relate to safeguarding and protecting wider societal commitments? And how, in light of emerging, new collective social values across the world, might businesses adapt their role in civil society?

How can business promote benefits for society?

Lead Researcher(s) Institution
Professor Peter Buckley Centre for International Business University of Leeds

The research will first examine the means by which corporations can contribute to society. It will ask two nested questions. (1) Can corporations contribute to societal goals through their own volition or do they need to be constrained by regulation into contributing beyond their own selfish goals (profit, market shares, growth)? (2) What is the best mechanism for an ‘autonomous’ (non-regulated) contribution? Two potential mechanisms are (a) the creation of incentives for key executives to contribute to societal values (such as the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals”) and (b) the creation of a company culture that is aligned with the greater good of society. This research will include interviews with key researchers and policy makers.

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