The Future of Corporate Responsibility Research

Many people around the world are working on the social and environmental performance of business and financial institutions. A lot is being researched and written about it. Where is it all headed? What and where do we need to focus on in future, and what are the emerging knowledge needs?

I prepared at short paper on this topic for the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education working group on research. It incorporated findings from a survey of subscribers to my company’s CSR Jobs mailing list (

That paper, entitled “Broader and Deeper – the future of CSR Research” is downloadable from Lifeworth’s homepage, along with the survey results. (Visit and click Future CSR Research Paper, or survey).

The paper concludes that the future of research on the social and environmental dimensions of business and finance will be both broader and deeper:
a) It will be geographically broader as the global shift in economic, political and eventually cultural power means that large emerging nations become important not only in terms of their domestic practices but their impacts around the world.
b) It will be intellectually broader, as practitioners demand greater relevance to complex decision making on societal dimensions of business and interorganisational relations from research by universities.
c) It will be organisationally deeper as integration of societal issues into all business functions, from marketing to accounting, becomes essential for risk management,  innovation and competitiveness.
d) It will be personally deeper, as more professionals will need to exist on the “bleeding edge” of innovation to drive forward organisational change, and to deal with ever greater complexity as business takes on more societal responsibilities.

I welcome comments and ideas.

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