October 2006 will herald the culmination of over a year of discussions and planning on the part of David Cooperrider, founder of The Center for BAWB, Judy Rodgers, executive director of BAWB, Myron Roomkin, dean of Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, the Academy of Management and the United Nations Global Compact when BAWB hosts “Advances in Business as an Agent of World Benefit”, a major international conference connecting the field of management research and education with the U.N. Global Compact and the Millennium Development Goals. Hosted at Case Weatherhead’s Center for BAWB, the conference represents a landmark collaboration between the school, the Academy of Management (representing over 16,000 management scholars and educators from over 90 countries) and the UN Global Compact—an alliance of more than two thousand global businesses and NGOs working to advance principles of corporate citizenship and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, in the year 2000 said, “Let us choose to unite the power of markets with the strength of universal ideals. Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations."
It will be the first time in history that the Academy of Management and the U.N. Global Compact have joined together for a conference. This powerful meeting of academic and business practitioners will combine the shared vision of these two groups and Case Western Reserve University of a world where the common good is enriched and improved by the actions of business. As part of the ongoing efforts of The Center for BAWB to embody the ideals set forth by Kofi Annan, they have helped to facilitate the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the three groups, bringing together their respective strengths toward progressing this vision and purpose.
Developing the conference will be a group effort as well with the Academy of Management providing subject expertise and at least one person that will be named as part of a core planning team, helping to communicate with members and to call for papers, helping with invitations, outputs, and more. The office of the UN Global Compact will provide contextual and subject expertise via “questions for learning” and help to articulate needs for relevant knowledge, education, and management tools that have emerged around the world. A member of the UN Global Compact team will be part of a core planning team, helping to communicate with members, call for papers, and assist in invitations to participate, share outputs, and more. Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School and the Center for BAWB will host the event, providing people for the core planning team and managing conference logistics and post conference follow-up—including guiding the conference’s work to completion in the form of a book and at least one special issue of a journal. Additionally, Case will help advise the design of marketing materials and publication possibilities.
The Academy of Management is a leading professional association for scholars dedicated to creating and disseminating knowledge about management and organizations. Members are scholars at colleges, universities, and research institutions, as well as practitioners with scholarly interests from business, government, and NGO’s. Founded in 1936, the Academy of Management is the oldest and largest scholarly management association in the world. Today, the Academy is the professional home for more than 16,000 members from 91 nations.
The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate global citizenship network with over 2000 business, NGO, university, and governmental organizations as members as well as 43 local GC Networks in countries all over the world. Through the power of collective action and the personal initiative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalization. In this way, the private sector – in partnership with other social actors – can help realize the Secretary-General’s vision of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.
The Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative with two objectives: (1) mainstream principles for global citizenship in business activities around the world, and (2) to catalyze actions in support of UN Millennium Development Goals. At the “Leaders Summit” at the UN in 2004—with participation from the CEOs and leaders of almost 400 companies such as BP, Novartis, Pfizer, Daimler Chrysler and others - there was one overarching theme found in almost every recommendation for the future. It was the call for “more and better knowledge, learning, and management tools” for advancing innovation at the intersection of business and society.
Case Western Reserve University is one of the world’s top independent research universities, with a $1.6 billion endowment, $200 million in sponsored research (14th in the US), and nationally ranked programs in engineering, the health sciences, law, social work, and management. Case has been home to seven Nobel Prize Laureates and recently President Edward Hundert helped raise $1.8 million dollars dedicated to management research and education to advance new knowledge of business as an agent of world benefit. The Weatherhead School of Management which occupies the acclaimed Peter B. Lewis Building, designed by Frank O. Gehry is the proposed site for the joint conference. The Weatherhead School has previously collaborated with both the Academy of Management on other international conferences (see the academic book from that conference titled The Organization Dimensions of Global Change) and has successfully helped facilitate a number of UN Global Compact meetings, most notable the June, 24th 2004 Leaders Summit at the UN.
The conference will address questions such as
· Can extreme poverty be eliminated by 2015 as envisioned by economists and advisors to the UN Millennium Development Goals, and if so might we see a proliferation of business and society innovation that benefits the world’s poor and generates new possibilities for business profitability—for example, the opening unexpected markets, seeding unlikely joint ventures and cross-fertilization, as well as giving birth to new business models and win-win frameworks?
· On the energy front, might we see a time when it is common sense and good management to make more profit with less carbon, where using energy differently will not only protect the earth’s climate, but will make businesses and consumers richer? Is it possible to envision factories that emit cleaner water than that which enters? Or buildings that help produce more energy for the world than they use? Or products that leave behind no waste—only “food” for other biological and technological cycles?· Is it possible, in our increasingly interdependent world of conflict and global terrorism, that the private sector will increasingly be recognized as a critical partner and positive force for peace—through mechanisms such as the economic empowerment of women through micro-enterprise, joint entrepreneurship, and the simple realities of everyday “working together” across polarized boundaries?
· And from the business leaders’ point of view, is all this advantageous? That is, are we heading for a world where doing good and doing well go hand in hand-- where economic prosperity, environmental wealth, and empowerment of people can, in an integrated way, become a source of innovation, respected brand identity, customer loyalty, human motivation, and competitive advantage for the long term?
The“Advances in Business as an Agent of World Benefit” conference is aimed at bringing together leading business executives, management scholars,civil society leaders, government policy makers and students for the purpose of anticipating the future of this fast changing field——a field of aligned business innovation and societal development that is today leaping ahead way beyond conventional notions of social responsibility, corporate ethics or philanthropic gesture.
Conference topics will likelyinclude:
Ø New Horizons Business Social Entrepreneurship, that is, a focus on the business contribution to achieving the MDGs, especially connecting the entrepreneurial capacities of business to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and promote human health while simultaneously creating superior returns for shareholders;
Ø Advanced Designs in Sustainable Enterprise and Energy, that is, the ways in which businesses are being designed to not only reduce environmental degradation but to actually restore the global environment through ecologically advanced manufacturing and building designs that produce more energy for the world, for example, than they use;
Ø The Private Sector as a Force for Peace and Security, that is, the ways in which business has become an increasingly influential player in many conflict ridden countries where terror and violent conflict is becoming an unavoidable business issue;
Ø Articulating The Business Case for Business and Society Leadership, that is, researching the ways in which the term “benefit” actually means mutual benefit including the implications for multi-stakeholder theories of the firm, for studies of leadership into human strengths, for positive scholarship in the arenas of organizational design and development, and for implications pertaining to management education in areas like finance, marketing, strategy, economics, and operations.
There will be many sponsorship and partnership opportunities. If you or your organization would like to explore partnership opportunities please contact The Center for BAWB at (216) 368-3809 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Janet Roberts