8th Annual EABIS Colloquium

"The Role of Business in Society: Challenges and Issues for Global and Corporate Governance"

21 - 22 September 2009

IESE, Barcelona, Spain

 

Three days after the 2008 Colloquium, Lehman Brothers collapsed, unleashing a financial, economic and socio-political and governance crisis. The 2009 conference therefore focused on the governance of the firm in the context of new global governance challenges. Other key areas explored where how the role of business in society is likely to change and to what extent governance mechanisms can foster corporate responsibility at the global, company and individual levels.

The key note was delivered by Peter Löscher, the CEO of Siemens who examined the current status of the economy, the potential and likely routes forward and how a sustainable economy can be put into practice.

 

The 2009 Colloquium hosted 3 major launches of knowledge insights:

  • The book “Mainstreaming Corporate Responsibility” – a collection of texts and cases for use in CR courses and across business disciplines including accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, organisational behaviour, operations management and strategy.
  • A thought leadership piece "Challenges of Governance" - assessing the state of corporate affairs and the changing relationship between business, society, policy-making and management education during the current crisis and in the emergence from it
  • The final report “Sustainable Value” - two-year EABIS funded project, main finding that long term profitability requires a commitment to greater corporate sustainability

 

Other highlights were the knowledge exchange in which corporates challenged academic suggestions to concrete issues and learning needs. The exchange was set up as market place with stands allowing an easy circulation of participants as well as one-two-one and group discussions. The networking event clearly had a « match-making » objective, designed to lead to a second round of post-Colloquium meetings and ideally the set-up of long term cooperation and research projects between the academic and corporate partners.

 

During the special corporate event on trust the speakers – Patricia Werhane and Steve William – recognized the importance of trust that is less an issue to be managed but more a concept that needs to permeate the organisation at all levels – starting with the top. Trust is a critical component for business - a basic ingredient that allows transactions without complete information – a daily reality for most businesses.

 

Professor Werhane commented that the greater crime of Bernard Madoff was not the $53bn that went missing, but the damage of his actions in undermining the fundamental trust of a whole community. The important lesson to draw out of this is that trust cannot be commodified.

 

On the second day, the governance of business schools and their industry was also in the focus. The “efficient market” hypothesis which underpinned to the financial bubble was hailed by policy-makers and governments – the latter certainly influenced by the direct and indirect tax revenues from a mushrooming and lucrative international finance industry.

 

But economics and finance faculty at leading Business Schools were equally enthusiastic in endorsing the false hypothesis. A “Deans Panel” with focused on the lessons to be learned for faculty diversity, the necessary critical nature of scholarship, methodological beliefs in models, and the responsible creation and spreading of knowledge. In this way, the Colloquium theme also asked about the governance needed for management education.


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