Business is one of the most powerful forces for change in the 21st century. Given the right mix of global corporate citizenship values and great strategic business innovations, every global problem can become a business opportunity.
A forum, Business as an Agent of World Benefit: Management Knowledge Leading Positive Change, unites the Academy of Management, United Nations Global Compact, and Case Weatherhead School of Management on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland on October 22-25, 2006. For three days over 400 leading business executives and management scholars from around the world will come together to explore ways in which business can be a leading force in eradicating poverty, enhancing the environment, and advancing peace-while still prospering financially. An additional 3,000 people worldwide are expected to participate through satellite and Internet links.
"On behalf of Kofi Annan and the 2,400 corporations and civil society organizations of the U.N. Global Compact, we are thrilled to partner with the Academy of Management and Case," said Georg Kell, executive director of the U.N. Global Compact. "This worldwide forum can be a tipping point in the next stages of global corporate citizenship. The idea of Business as an Agent of World Benefit - that is, uniting the strengths of markets with the power of universal ideals to make a more inclusive globalization serving all of humanity - is an idea whose time is now."
Scholarship can help to guide business in building sustainable value creation. With that in mind, participants will pay particular attention to the re-envisioning of management education's immense influence on global corporate citizenship as it shapes the framework and attitudes of the world's future business leaders. The conference will produce models, theories, examples and practical guidelines for business that answer many of the common questions regarding why businesses should get involved in societal issues and how it can practically get involved while still profiting.
"Case believes that moving the face of management in the direction of acting as an agent of world benefit should be the primary goal of business in the 21st Century," said Myron Roomkin, Albert J. Weatherhead, III, Professor of Management and Dean of the Weatherhead School of Management. "We are happy to have our Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit to help move management education in this direction at Weatherhead."
Forum attendees will share in presentations, discussions, and breakout sessions centering on new research on the business case for sustainable development. With all eyes focused on ways in which business can change society, the goal is to envision new ways in which business can succeed in making such changes and bring those ideas to the attention of the global community as a whole. This forum will unite the strengths of business with the universally recognized values of the U.N. Global Compact and the world's Millennium Development Goals.
"There is no question that the world needs peace to prosper, and prosperity to have peace; that the quality of ecological and social environments have become inextricably dependant on the visions and strategies of business leaders," said Nancy J. Adler, management professor at McGill University, fellow with the Academy of Management and conference co-chair. "Increasingly, management schools worldwide are helping students to succeed, not just financially but also as influential members of humanity. The Business as an Agent of World Benefit Forum is bringing together the best scholarship with the world's most progressive business leadership. It truly has the potential to change not only the fundamental nature of business education, but the very essence of how business is conducted in the world."
The relationship between business and society - including business's search for mutually beneficial advances that address the world's most pressing global needs - has become one of the defining issues of the 21st century.
"This state-of-the-art forum will challenge ‘the great tradeoff illusion' - the belief that firms must sacrifice outstanding financial performance if they choose strategically to address societal challenges. Business as a force for eradication of extreme poverty, or ecological restoration, or peace and security in the midst of conflict zones - these are all happening," said Kell. "The innovations, the research studies, and stories from around the world are today beginning to converge. Companies do, in fact, do well by doing good, and this forum will help advance a growing critical mass by bringing together top universities and researchers with executives and leaders from business, civil society, and the United Nations."