SWG 10: The Changing Role of Business in Global Society



Frank de Bakker, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Jeremy Moon, University of Nottingham, UK


Guido Palazzo, University of Lausanne, Switzerland


Andreas Rasche, Warwick Business School, UK


Andreas Georg Scherer, University of Zurich, Switzerland


J. (Hans) van Oosterhout, Rotterdam School of Management, The Netherlands


Kathleen Rehbein, Marquette University, USA


This SWG aims to provide a platform for scholars to discuss the changing dynamics between business activity and society in the context of globalization. The dominant views of the firm in management and organization studies in general, and in subfields such as CSR or business and society in particular, still build on the concept of instrumental corporate social responsibility and the economic view of the business firm.

However, globalizing society erodes established ideas about the division of labor between the political and economic spheres. It calls for a fresh view concerning the role of business in global society and the role of regulation.


Considering this changing context of business in global society, the objectives of the SWG are:


...to discuss the consequences of a political mandate of the business firm, especially, but not limited to, the context of developing and emerging economies. Potential questions include, but are not restricted to:


  • What are the consequences of the political role for organizational legitimacy?
  • How can we find a balance between corporate power and the public interest?
  • Do companies have an enlarged political responsibility and if so how can it be defined?
  • How do business firms try to deal with their enlarged political role?
  • What new forms of organizing are emerging to reflect new forms of public-private governance?
  • How can the activities of companies be democratically controlled?


...to analyze the existing and potential interactions between business firms and other societal actors (e.g., NGOs and unions) and to also reflect on changing business-government relations. Potential questions include, but are not restricted to:


  • What is the role and significance of social movements, civil society groups, and NGOs in relation to the political mandate of business?
  • What can be learned from the emerging forms of cooperation between business firms, NGOs and civil society groups (e.g. with respect to private-public-partnerships)?
  • How do social movements, civil society groups, and NGOs influence each other in these interactions?


...to research whether and how voluntary corporate responsibility practices represent a way to fill the governance voids which the rise of the global economy has created. Potential questions include, but are not restricted to:


  • What are the consequences of a political conception of corporate social responsibility for corporate governance and the economic theory of the firm?
  • What is the impact of organizations promoting corporate responsibility?
  • How can we organize for global corporate responsibility, particularly considering the rich interplay between public and private rule-setters?
  • Which organizational structures or incentive systems support social innovations?
  • How can responsible leadership contribute to social innovations?
  • What role do organizational creativity and resources play for social innovations?


The SWG particularly invites contributions taking a critical perspective on the role of the firm in global society. Participants in the SWG should aim to develop strong theoretical and/or empirical insights that increase our understanding of the role of global business firms and their contribution to society.