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April 26th, 2015
Französische Justiz prüft Vorwurf der Sklavenarbeit gegen Vinci

Die französische Justiz hat Vorermittlungen eingeleitet, um den Vorwurf der Sklavenarbeit gegen den Baukonzern Vinci im Golfemirat Katar zu prüfen.

May 18th, 2016
What Baseball’s Rules — Written and Unwritten — Tell us About Business Ethics

The fist that landed on Jose Bautista’s jaw echoed around the baseball world almost as loudly as his famous “bat flip” last October. And whereas Bautista’s bat flip violated the unwritten rule against grandstanding, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor’s punch violated the written rules, but also followed from a different, unwritten rule that permits […]

May 18th, 2016
What Baseball’s Rules — Written and Unwritten — Tell us About Business Ethics

The fist that landed on Jose Bautista’s jaw echoed around the baseball world almost as loudly as his famous “bat flip” last October. And whereas Bautista’s bat flip violated the unwritten rule against grandstanding, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor’s punch violated the written rules, but also followed from a different, unwritten rule that permits […]

July 6th, 2015
Nachhaltige Logistik: Mittelstand fehlt oft „Zeit für den nötigen Weitblick“

Das Ziel einer nachhaltigen Logistik beinhaltet nach wie vor große Herausforderungen. Im deutsch-niederländischen Grenzgebiet hat das Forschungsprojekt „Green² - Green Logistics in Agrobusiness“ von Juni 2013 bis Juni 2015 Nachhaltigkeitspotentiale dieser Querschnittsbranche untersucht. Nach Ergebnissen dieses Projektes und den Lessons Learned fragte CSR NEWS Raphael Heereman von Zuydtwyck, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut GEMIT der Hochschule Niederrhein.

April 16th, 2015
Why Gravity Payments’ $70,000 minimum salary, sadly, won’t catch on

What are we to think when a CEO slashes his own salary by 93%, and then uses the money — along with a big chunk of corporate profits — to ensure that every one of his employees makes a minimum of $70,000 per year? That’s what Dan Price, founder and co-owner of Gravity Payments is […]

November 3rd, 2014
Canadians trust CEOs more than politicians—but not much more

Canadians mistrust politicians at about twice the rate at which they mistrust CEOs. Is that good news or bad news for Canada’s business leaders? The numbers come from a new national survey*, conducted by the Gandalf Group on behalf of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre (of which I’m Director) . The survey, which we believe […]

February 1st, 2014
It’s the bottom 1% that really deserves our attention

An awful lot is being said these days about the difference between the top 1% and the rest of us. But if we really care about social justice, we should probably focus more of our attention on the difference between those of us fortunate enough to be in the top 99%, and the 1% at […]

November 9th, 2013
Rob Ford should stay

Toronto, that once sleepy capital of Canadian business, ‘New York run by the swiss’, a city widely seen as boring and ugly (esp. compared to its once-competitor Montréal) – has made global news: A crack smoking mayor! Match that, London, New York or Berlin! All the mainstream media here (and globally) are pretty unanimous in their call for Rob Ford’s resignation, or at least for him taking a break.

That in itself is a reason for suspicion. In my business ethics course this week I had a vivid exchange with my students. We were discussing discrimination and how it is unethical to apply criteria such as race, gender, sexual orientation, recreational habits etc. to job qualifications and hiring. On that note, calls for Ford’s resignation are not very convincing. After all, on many accounts, he has done a good job as Toronto’s major. The city’s finances are healthy; public services are running smoothly, key infrastructure projects, such as the construction of new subway lines have finally taken off; and the major successfully tamed the beast of an otherwise dysfunctional federal/provincial/municipal layered bureaucracy to get even more public infrastructure projects off the ground. This alone, in a city whose infrastructure is stuck somewhere in the 1970s, is reasonable ground to consider him a success on his job.

Of course, there were other things in the past, where arguably Ford violated the terms of his job. Toronto Star investigative reporter Daniel Dale – a former student of us - digged out a number of occasions where the mayor took advantage of his role for personal issues. But nothing really stuck.

As much as some have made an ethical case here against the mayor, I do not think these arguments really touch the heart of the controversy.

Two things spring to mind to any reflective observer. First, much of the vitriol directed at Ford in my view is just based on the persistent WASPy (as in White Anglo Saxon Protestant) subculture of North America. Ford likes to use recreational drugs, has all the wrong, politically incorrect friends and, yes, is probably an alcoholic. Mind you, at least it was not about sex. But in some ways his fate resembles the one of Bill Clinton or Elliot Spitzer: Ford does not live up to the public morality and style, which is deemed politically correct in Canada. It is worth noting that consuming crack is not illegal in Canada. And the fact that he admits to it in public and simply continues with his job just infuriates all those who either have succumbed to this pubic consensus of stuffy morality or otherwise suppress it and live it out in private. After all, Canada’s alcohol consumption is twice the global average and him talking about his ‘drunken stupors’ as a regular occurrence probably just represents an average recreational practice in this country.

Little surprise of course, that much of the hunt on Ford – representing the right wing Progressive Conservative Party – is coming from the ‘liberal’ press here. It not only shows how small ‘c’ conservative even Canada’s liberal elites are but also reveals that all those who hated Ford as a mayor to begin with now take whatever moral resource as their disposal to finally finish him off.

This points to a second observation. Rob Ford epitomizes the aches and tensions of a country which has been the most relaxed and forward looking in terms of immigration. His constituency are the ‘905ers’ based on the area code of Toronto’s suburbia. That is also where he is from. These are mostly people with a first generation immigrant background coming from south and east asia. The other lot,  who hate him and are currently fanning the flames of ousting Rob Ford are the ‘416ers’, those who live in the core downtown of Toronto. None of them voted for Ford and they never felt represented by a fat, white, uneducated, loud bloke from the suburbs.

Ford’s approval ratings have soared in the aftermath of him admitting his drug use. This is no surprise. He represents people who struggle to make ends meet; who are sick and tired of commuting to work in a city with the longest commuting time by far; who get little kick out of taxes being spent on things that do not relate to their everyday struggles; and who know from their own experience that fighting your way out of, say, Bangladesh to Brampton (a 905 suburb) – yes – takes determination, hard work and not too much concern for what their then constituency back home thought of them. Rob Ford, the small time entrepreneur, in his stubbornness just represents them.

So what does this amount to? On day one of his election I thought Rob Ford was a disaster. Mostly because I believe in Toronto’s potential as a great global city that deserves a mayor of a different stature and outlook. But at the same time I also believe that a mayor has to represent the city that voted him in. And boy, Rob Ford fits that bill. So rather than trying to get this ugly representation of what Toronto actually looks like out of sight, the real smart reaction to this scandal would be to say that Rob Ford – with all his preposterous faults – is the one that the people of Toronto chose to represent them. So lets allow him to continue to represent us. And if we don’t like what we see - until we can vote him out - maybe we find the courage to address the underlying issues. Rather than killing the poor guy who currently just displays them.
Photo by Eric Parker, reproduced under the Creative Commons license.

September 6th, 2013
The Dark Side of the Tanning Business

Tanning beds are rapidly joining cigarettes in the “it’s only legal because no one has figured out how to outlaw it” category. Indeed, even their legality is slipping. Jurisdictions from Prince Edward Island to Texas, for example, are banning minors from tanning salons. Not surprisingly, dermatologists are pleased. Indeed, the Canadian Dermatology Association has issued […]

July 18th, 2013
Top 10 tips for publishing CSR research in top journals

Contrary to popular belief, most university faculty don't spend the whole summer lounging on the beach or sitting in the garden. For most of us, summer is the time when we can really focus on our research without the usual distractions of teaching and university administration.

Although many academics do this research because they enjoy it, it is also a critical part of our role. Success in publishing our research is often the number one reason why we get hired or not, or whether we get that promotion or pay rise that we're after. Publish or perish is a mantra that is very real for many of us.

July 18th, 2013
Top 10 tips for publishing CSR research in top journals

Contrary to popular belief, most university faculty don't spend the whole summer lounging on the beach or sitting in the garden. For most of us, summer is the time when we can really focus on our research without the usual distractions of teaching and university administration.

Although many academics do this research because they enjoy it, it is also a critical part of our role. Success in publishing our research is often the number one reason why we get hired or not, or whether we get that promotion or pay rise that we're after. Publish or perish is a mantra that is very real for many of us.

Publication, however, is no easy matter. There is great competition for space in the best scholarly outlets, like high ranked journals and prestigious book publishers. Those of us doing research on corporate responsibility issues, whether CSR, business ethics, business and sustainability, or whatever else sometimes struggle to meet the kinds of standards expected by these outlets. This is not because we're any less smart than other researchers, but we do have a complicated subject that doesn't always lend itself very well to the demands of the top tier journals. There is also just simply lot to learn about the publishing process, especially for PhD students, junior researchers or those relatively new to the demands of publishing their work in premier English-language journals.

As a result of this, we often find ourselves giving advice to other CSR researchers, especially at the many workshops and conferences that crop up over the summer. We tend to tailor this advice to the different audiences we speak to, but we also thought that it might be helpful to give a more general list of top tips that anyone doing work in the area could hopefully learn something from. Our thoughts are particularly relevant to publishing in high ranked management journals, but most of the lessons translate beyond this. Let us know if you find them helpful or if you have your own suggestions, just add them in the comment section below.

1. Make time for research. This is the critical starting place. Good work requires a substantial investment of time and energy and lots of researchers spend a lot of their time on teaching and service. In the CSR space, in particular, many of us are so passionate about our subject that our available research time is easily eaten up by working with our students or lobbying our colleagues to include more CSR content in their courses. Carving out the necessary space and time for research is critical. There are no shortcuts.

2. Find great co-authors … but select them carefully. OK, so maybe there is one shortcut: finding other people to do some of the research with you. But co-authorships go wrong as often as they go well. So choosing carefully is critical. Find people with complementary skills, who understand the subject in different but related ways to you. Remember, CSR issues are complicated, so just as we always advocate partnership by organizations, so too do we need to partner to understand a phenomenon. But if we go too broad, we risk losing the all-essential focus that the top journals aim for. Our no.1 piece of advice for selecting co-authors - find someone you can go for a drink or a coffee with and feel energized afterwards.
3. Write for a clearly defined audience, with a carefully targeted paper, that joins a specific conversation. Research doesn't happen in a vacuum. Who do you want to read your work? No, really, who exactly do you have in mind? What have they written about your subject? Answer these questions and join an ongoing conversation rather than trying to start a whole new one. It may seem like CSR issues are new and exciting, but many of the issues, problems or concepts that we find interesting have been addressed by others in other ways. Some scholars live by the maxim that if you think an idea is really new then you probably just haven't read enough. So make sure you do read enough and make sure that your work is crafted for a particular audience. If it helps, think of it like a product that has to fill a clearly defined need.

4. Be clear what the research gap is that you are aiming to fill, and what your contribution is. Probably the number one reason that editors reject corporate responsibility papers is that they don't make a clear enough contribution. Typically, this means, a contribution to academic theory. So nailing down the research gap and deciding for yourself what your unique contribution is will reap rewards. Especially if the contribution is one valued by those other researchers that you're aiming to write for.

5. Try as far as possible to be theory rather than phenomenon driven. This is one that many CSR researchers struggle with. We're doing research in this area because we find the issues themselves fascinating. This means we tend to phenomenon-driven. But the higher ranked journals all typically look for a theoretical contribution and so they expect the research they publish to be theoretically-driven. So if you don't want to take too many risks with that limited amount of research time you have, work out how to make the translation from phenomenon to theory and start as you mean to go on.

6. Different contexts have to be theoretically distinctive (revising/extending theory) not just new applications of existing theory. This is particularly relevant for those doing research on or in particular countries or industries, which is so common in the CSR field just because it has become so ubiquitous. The key thing to remember here is that just because no one has done research on your country or industry before, that doesn't mean it needs to be done now. If you're following the advice we've already laid out, you'll be thinking - what is it about this country or industry that is sufficiently different that it renders existing theories inadequate to explain it. If you can answer this, you have a shot at extending or revising that theory rather than just applying it to a new area. And that's what the reviewers will be looking for.

7. Test out your ideas with working papers, conference presentations, workshops, etc – do not submit too early. Research is a process, and the great thing about that is there are lots of opportunities to get feedback on what you're doing before its too late. Take your time to see if your ideas have the potential for top tier publication before you commit to doing the research. And then as you're doing the research get feedback from the best people you can about your emerging results. Finally, circulate your work and get feedback before you submit to that tier 1 journal that rejects 90% of the papers it receives. You want to be as sure as possible that you're going to be in the rarefied 10%.

8. Beware of avoidable ‘incompetence cues’ . This is one that the former editor of Business Ethics Quarterly, Gary Weaver, always explained very convincingly. If editors and reviewers find sub-standard English, spelling mistakes, poor referencing, formatting that doesn't meet the journal's specification and other minor errors in a paper (especially in the first few pages) you are going to activate the editor's 'incompetence schema'. That is, he or she will already be thinking that you're in some way incompetent before they even get to evaluating your ideas. Don't risk it. Get the basics 100% right, every time, without fail. This will give your work the best chance it can of being judged in the way you want it to be.

9. Remember that reviewers are there to help you improve your work. The community of researchers around CSR and business ethics are a pretty collegiate and supportive group. But it can feel like completely the opposite when you're holding three reviews which all appear to rip your work to shreds ... but are still offering you the chance to resubmit something different (well, actually, better) in the future. But believe us, they do actually want to see your work published, so you just need to work with them, not against them. The most successful researchers spend almost as much time on revising their work as they on the initial preparation. Take criticism on the chin and use it constructively as just another stage in the research process. In the end, you'll appreciate the advice because it almost always improves your research if you're working with a good journal and good reviewers.

10. Get used to criticism and rejection – and don’t forget the bigger picture of why you want to publish in the first place. We all get bucketloads of criticism and we all get our work rejected. Its a part of the job as a researcher. Some people say that if you're not getting rejected from time to time, you're not aiming high enough. So don't take it personally. And remember, the reason you're putting yourself through all this is that you think the issues are important and that you have ways of thinking about it that need to be read. The best journals are regarded a good because they have a higher impact than the others. If you really want your work to be read by other researchers - if you want to leave a mark on the field - you'll need to face the trials and tribulations of aiming for the best journals. So grow a hard skin along with that smart mind and warm heart.

March 25th, 2013
Three takes on business ethics: Young academics hold court.

I recently spent a day acting as a Faculty Advisor at an event held by the Canadian Business Ethics Research Network (CBERN). The day involved listening to presentations by young PhD students in the field of Business Ethics and offering constructive comments on their research projects. The students presented on very different scholarly questions within [...]

November 23rd, 2012
Opus Dei Sues Game Publisher

As you may have heard, Opus Dei, a branch of the Catholic church, is suing a Danish game publisher, Dema Games, for alleged infringement of its trademark. The game is called “Opus Dei: Existence After Religion.” The case is pretty much entirely without moral merit. Never mind the David-vs-Goliath image raised by the thought of [...]

August 30th, 2012
Conflict of Interest and the Rule of Law

The hapless mayor of Canada’s largest city is again facing accusations of conflict of interest. Or, more accurately, he is facing accusations that he violated the relevant legislation regarding how conflicts of interest ought to be handled by municipal councils. The claim is that Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act [...]

July 2nd, 2012
Obamacare and Business Values

Yesterday, the US Supreme court mostly upheld Obamacare, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (See the full decision here [PDF].) The Big Decision may have been made, but clearly lots remains to be sorted out. One of the questions that arises, from an ethical point of view, is the way that [...]

May 28th, 2012
POM Wonderful and Hearts vs Brains

The makers of POM Wonderful want you to use your heart, not your brain. At least, that’s the distinct impression we get from the company’s recent battle with the US Federal Trade Commission. Last week, an administrative law judge for the FTC found that at least some of POM’s ads made “false and misleading” claims [...]

March 20th, 2012
Schwarzenegger: Time for a New Breed of Action Heroes

(Geneva) – The former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces today that he will serve as Honorary Chair for the Sustainia Award alongside EU Commissioner Connie Hedeggard, IPPC Chairman Dr. Rajenda K. Pachauri and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland. The Award is

January 7th, 2012
Chinesischer Zeitungschef erpresst Unternehmer Peking

Peking (afp) - Wegen der angeblichen Erpressung eines Möbelunternehmens ist laut einem Medienbericht der Chef der chinesischen Zeitung "Peking Times" entlassen worden. Generaldirektor Cui Bin habe seinen Posten am Vortag räumen müssen, weil er als Gegenleistung für den Verzicht auf eine Berichterstattung über

November 7th, 2010
Social Responsibilities of Business

The question of what a company’s social obligations are is an interesting one, and a vexed one. Unfortunately, the question is complicated by the fact that the very term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (“CSR”) has come to be associated with a particular view about the right answer to that question. As I’ve argued here before, the [...]

September 1st, 2010
Why the Wall Street Journal is wrong about CSR

Our friend, colleague, and fellow blogger over at the University of Western Ontario, Mike Valente, has just posted a very informed and thought-provoking response to last week's rather incendiary article in the Wall Street Journal about why CSR is misgu...

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