10th Annual Forum on Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in a Global Economy: “Back to basics: What is the Purpose of the Corporation?”
09:00 - 13:15
In the past three editions of the Forum we have analysed the evolution of the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and of the role of multinational corporations (MCNs) in a global economy. The Ninth Politeia Forum (December 2012), in particular, explored the grounds and scope of MNCs’s duties in order to frame their role in the quest for global justice. Global justice demands traditionally concern the duties of states and of their citizens; however, today there is a debate on whether such demands concern MCNs too. The very concept of CSR has proved to be inadequate to address the issues of global justice, as it generates only little impact on the structural root causes of injustice. An alternative perspective based on justice would account better for the increasingly prominent political dimension of corporate responsibility. As a consequence, when linking global justice to corporate responsibility, it seems all the more necessary to better specify the fundamental purpose of MCNs and in general of for-profit corporations. One of the Ninth Forum’s main results has been to show how a perspective based on global justice entails a new reflection on the purpose of for-profit corporations.
In the course of the Tenth Edition, experts will further explore this issues: What is the purpose of the corporation in today’s economy and society? How should corporations respond to the competing stakeholder pressures of corporate social responsibility and shareholder value maximization? How should we think about corporate obligations and responsibilities?
The long-standing traditional view – the so called shareholder primacy – holds that a Corporation must pursue the interests of its shareholders by maximizing profits. Thirty years ago, the seminal work by Edward Freeman (Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, originally published in 1984 and reprinted in 2010 by Cambridge University Press), introduced the Stakeholder Theory, the most prominent alternative to the traditional view, according to which managers of for-profit Corporations are called to pursue not only the interests of shareholders, but those of all the stakeholders involved. This year’s edition, which marks Politeia’s Forum tenth anniversary, offers scholars and practitioners the opportunity to discuss the stakeholder approach with its founder, who will illustrate this theory’s most recent developments.
The Forum is organized by the Research Centre Politeia in partnership with the University of Milano – Department of Social and Political Sciences, the IESEG School of Management – Lille-Paris, and the Global Compact Network Italy Foundation, and is supported by a Promoting Committee of several well-known Italian companies and organizations. Aim of Politeia is to offer managers of national and international companies and experts in business ethics and CSR from the most prestigious national and international research centres the opportunity to discuss the emerging ethical issues in the global economic system, thus increasing the awareness and knowledge of the ethical and social responsibilities of economic organizations, and filling the gap between ‘practitioners’ and ‘experts’.