Professor Jem Bendell

Notes from a strategist & educator on social & organisational change, now focused on #DeepAdaptation

Archive for May, 2009

Asian CSR set to reshape the global business environment, according to Lifeworth review.

Posted by jembendell on May 25, 2009

Press release, 25th May 00.01 GMT, Lifeworth, Manila.

Asia is becoming a leading region for corporate social responsibility (CSR), as its businesses gain international influence, according to some leading CSR academics and practitioners, writing in the eighth global review from a CSR consulting firm. “Diverse Asian approaches to responsible enterprise will increasingly affect business practices around the globe. Not only can this trend be welcomed, it is essential to achieve a fair and sustainable world,” argues lead author of the review, Dr Jem Bendell.

The Eastern Turn In Responsible Enterprise describes the rise of Asian business and finance that was hastened by events during 2008. It argues that although expanding economic power generates difficult social and environmental challenges, the world needs Asian business and society to help innovate the technologies, processes and concepts that will help us meet the critical challenges of our time, such as climate change and poverty eradication. It explores some initial implications of this global shift, and some characteristics of Asian forms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). “In order for executives to respond to the global challenges of our time, we must recognise and learn from sustainable innovations that are occurring everywhere, including across Asia, not just in one region,” concludes Dr Bendell, director of Lifeworth.

The review begins by chronicling the economic rise of Asia. The region has become home to the majority of the world’s middle classes. Asia now trades amongst itself more than with the rest of the world and it holds the vast majority of the world’s savings. Asian businesses continue to acquire famous brands from the West. “The current crisis has sharply accentuated the Eastern Turn in the world order,” notes the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Griffith University, Professor Michael Powell, in a foreword. The shift in global power is one of a number of implications of the economic crisis for responsible enterprise and finance that the review explores in detail.

The review shows how this rise in economic power is being followed by a rise in activity on the social and environmental performance of business. It describes how domestic factors within Asian societies are driving CSR, such as growing environmental awareness. Director of ethical reputation analysts Covalence, Antoine Mach explains that “coverage of CSR issues in Asia by the press and non-governmental organisations continues to grow year on year.” This domestic pressure marks a development from recent years where Western interests have been key in encouraging the adoption of CSR codes by Asian business.

Commenting on the review, Stephen Hine of the responsible investment analysts EIRIS, explains that “whilst CSR has traditionally been seen as something primarily undertaken by Western companies there is increasing evidence of it being seen as important by Asian companies.” The review provides data on the growth of CSR-related activities, such as the level of reports, institutes, and certifications on social and environmental performance. For instance Asia has become the top region for IS014001 environmental management certifications and reports issued in compliance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. It also highlights some environmental innovations from Asian businesses, such as BYD Auto in China, which is rapidly establishing itself as a leading electric car maker, and from Israel, which is a developing integrated electric car recharging systems with auto makers. “It is increasingly clear that many people in Asia see the need for a focus on responsible enterprise and will increasingly lead the way in responsible business development,” notes Professor Powell.

Rising academic interest in CSR within Asia is also chronicled. The review is published to coincide with the launch of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise at Griffith Business School in Australia. Professor Powell sees the potential for business schools to help address the changing global business environment. “No fewer than 30 business schools in the “East” have signed on to the UN Principles of Responsible Management Education and that number is growing all the time.” he writes in a foreword.

“The Eastern Turn in responsible enterprise is not an option,” explains Professor Jeremy Moon of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR), at the University of Nottingham, a leader in internationalising research on CSR. “It brings new normative, conceptual and operational challenges,” he explains in the review. The Eastern Turn in Responsible Enterprise postulates on some common characteristics of Asian CSR in comparison to the West, highlighting implications for policy, practice, and research.

Also author of the new book The Corporate Responsibility Movement, which describes the emergence of a social movement of business people transforming corporations, Dr Bendell concludes that people working on CSR could benefit from more cross-cultural dialogue on globally responsible enterprise and finance. The review even suggests that insight into new forms of business and finance after the crisis could come from such a dialogue, pointing in particular to the Gandhian concept of the trusteeship of assets.

Further Information:

The review can be viewed for free via where a fully referenced electronic or hardcopy can also be purchased.

The review is published by Lifeworth Consulting, a boutique professional services firm specialising in responsible enterprise strategy, evaluation and education. It includes the quarterly reviews from the Journal of Corporate Citizenship ( It is written by Jem Bendell, Niaz Alam, Sandy Lin, Chew Ng, Lala Rimando, Claire Veuthey, and Barbara Wettstein.

The ideas in the review will be discussed at a conference organised by the Asia Pacific Academy of Business in Society (APABIS), in November 2009 ( A special issue of the the journal Business Strategy and the Environment will also explore these issues in connection with inter-organisational collaboration, edited by the lead author of the review (

The review is made possible with the support of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR) at Nottingham Business School (, Griffith Business School (, EIRIS (, Covalence ( and Greenleaf Publishing  (

“The Corporate Responsibility Movement” is published by Greenleaf, March 2009, and is available at:

To contact the authors of this review email enquiries at

Posted in Academia and Research, ALN, Corporations, Lifeworth, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Asia Pacific CSR Partnerships

Posted by jembendell on May 22, 2009

Engaging stakeholders for responsible enterprise and finance in the Asia Pacific

Call for Papers for a special issue of the journal Business Strategy and the Environment.

Edited by Jem Bendell, Juliet Roper and Eva Collins. Deadlines: 19th June 2009 1st November 2009

The formation of strategic alliances between companies for mutual commercial benefit is a widely used approach by contemporary business. The development of such alliances with non-commercial organisations, such as government agencies and voluntary associations, to deliver social and environmental outcomes, is a more recent phenomenon. In the past decade such cross-sectoral strategic alliances have become a key mechanism for pursuing corporate sustainability and responsibility. By bringing together their respective competencies and resources for the greater good, people in governments, business, civil society and multilateral agencies have sought innovative ways to respond to many contemporary sustainable development challenges: climate change; human security; the prevention and treatment of major diseases; ethics, governance and responsible investment; entrepreneurship and employment; pension and superannuation funds management; and, sustainable financing for development. Globally, the appetite for such strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement appears strong. Over 90% of corporate executives responding to a World Economic Forum survey felt that in future “partnerships between business, government, and civil society would play either a major role or some role in addressing key development challenges.” This interest is parralleled by an expanding literature on inter-organisational relations in management, organisation and international development studies, among other disciplines.

Although closer stakeholder engagement and new strategic alliances may hold considerable potential for promoting sustainable development, participants from the different sectors recognise that there are considerable inherent risks. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies are concerned that participation in consultations and alliances with business could threaten their integrity and independence. Businesses fear that too much time and money spent on stakeholder dialogue and alliances with not-for-profit organisations might divert them from their ultimate aim of producing goods and services as profit making enterprises in order to benefit their owners and workers. Governments often raise important questions about the legitimacy, governance, and accountability of cross-sector alliances, particularly those that exclude or undermine public sector interests. As strategic alliances have become more widely used mechanisms for policy development and implementation, these questions about their effectiveness and accountability become more important. In the Asia Pacific region (Asia, Australasia and the Pacific) the nature of societal challenges, the level of business interest in corporate responsibility, the capacity of civil society, and existence of good governance, vary greatly. The relevance and risks of cross-sectoral strategic alliances for sustainable development therefore also vary. This special issue of the journal Business Strategy and the Environment aims to bring together perspectives on the nature of stakeholder engagement and strategic alliances in the Asia Pacific region, to add to the international debate and practice of alliances for sustainable development, while also ensuring that insights are relevant to the specific contexts of practitioners, policy makers and educators in the Asia Pacific.

Call for Contributions:

We invite interdisciplinary papers on the topic of “Engaging stakeholders for responsible enterprise and finance in the Asia Pacific”. Interdisciplinary papers that tailor their research questions and analysis to the needs of identifiable user groups, whether in business, government or civil society will be particularly welcome. In particular, we invite papers that explore any of the following issues: The nature and impact of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement on responsible investment, financing and sustainable development across the Asia Pacific region. The characteristics of sustainable strategic alliances (e.g., aims, structure, decision-making, financing, communication) and how they influence performance. The strengths/weaknesses, and costs/benefits, of various types of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement and how their performance could be improved. The role of government and public policy in shaping business involvement in strategic alliances with the private sector and civil society across Asia Pacific. The personal competencies required for effective inception, management and scaling of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement. The likely future of strategic alliances and stakeholder engagement in the Asia Pacific region, given current trends in the economy, politics, ecology and technology. The environmental, social and governance challenges and opportunities facing corporations and how their responses provide contexts for sustainable development and stakeholder engagement. Case studies relevant to the conference theme. Critical perspectives on the relevance or performance of cross-sectoral collaborations. Pedagogical and or curriculum initiatives surrounding teaching of strategic alliances in the area of sustainability

Submission procedures:

Abstracts (2-3 pages to a maximum of 1,000 words) can be submitted either for consideration for the special issue alone, or for a conference on this issue and also the journal. The conference is organised by the Asia Pacific Academy of Business in Society (APABIS), in November 2009. For consideration for the conference and the journal, submit your abstracts to Chris Auld by 19 June 2009. All abstracts submitted for the conference will be reviewed and authors notified of acceptance by 13 July 2009. Abstracts for consideration for the journal and not the conference can be submitted until November 1st 2009. These should be sent to jb at Authors will be notified by November 27th whether they are invited to provide full papers for consideration. Papers presented at the conference are more likely to be successful, due to the potential for greater feedback. Please visit for further details on the APABIS conference.

Posted in Academia and Research | 4 Comments »

Applying ‘Movement Thinking’ to your work

Posted by jembendell on May 12, 2009

The scale of the challenges we face today, from climate change to economic instability, remind us that it is no longer smart, if ever, to plan our own work without attention to how we influence social change more generally on the issues that are of personal and strategic importance to us.

Based on some of the analysis in my new book, I have developed a simple process to applying ‘Movement Thinking’ to your responsible enterprise efforts.


Social movements theories point to four categories of factors that shape the generation and development of social movements. Reflecting on how we relate to these factors can help us to understand our contribution to, or benefit from, a social movement. Work through the following questions to aid you in applying ‘movement thinking’ to your responsible enterprise efforts. Make notes on a piece of paper, and discuss them with a friend or colleague.

To understand more about these factors in movement generation, refer to pages 16-20 and 24-29 of The Corporate Responsibility Movement.

Assessing general movement participation

Ask yourself the following questions, in relation to your work on aspects of responsible business and finance.

1) How have I contributed to identification and pursuit of common interests of a particular group of people (like me)? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

2) How have I contributed to the development of shared identities and social ties? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

3) How have I contributed to mobilising resources for a particular group? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

4) How have I contributed to the shaping or identification of significant political and societal opportunities for further action? Have I benefited from others doing this? What more could I do, or be done?

Applying a ‘movement approach’ to strategic responses to organisational challenges

Choose a particular organisational challenge you are working on that you recognise has public-interest dimensions. Ask yourself:

5) To what extent are my motivations for addressing this challenge instrumental (benefiting myself and employer), relational (benefiting my social relations at work and private life) and/or moral (relating to my values)? If relational or moral motives rank highly, go to question 7. If not, then go to question 6.

6) In some cases even instrumental reasons require collective changes in society in order to be successful at the organisational and personal level. To transform society in ways that help resolve a challenge you face, you may benefit from understanding how to interact positively with social movements. Therefore, if relational or moral reasons rated fairly low in the previous question, ask yourself what the limits of individual action might be on the challenge you have identified. – if you see the need to participate in social change for instrumental reasons, go to question 7.

7) With the specific organisational challenge in mind, work again through questions 1 to 4. i.e. append “related to the specific challenge I am working on now” to the end of each question.


Share the results of your thought processes with professional confidants. Focus on the question “What more could I do, or be done”?

Share the results to the question “What more could I do, or be done?” here at using the comments option below.


Excerpt from page 28 of The Corporate Responsibility Movement

“As I [Jem Bendell] see myself as a participant in the corporate responsibility movement, I decided to test the theory on myself. I challenged myself to identify at least one thing that has emerged in me and one thing that has emerged from me for the corporate responsibility movement over the past 13 years, that relate to the four aspects of movement generation described above. In terms of common interest, I have learned that my interest is not related to a specific profession, such as consulting or academia, but with people who believe in being entrepreneurial in any sector in order to make economic activity contribute to a better world. For others in the movement, my consulting and training has sought to connect people to that sense of their own interest. In terms of common identity and ties, I have now developed camaraderie with people in a variety of sectors who are pioneering ways of making significant changes in business practice, and benefit from extensive networks of professional colleagues, many of whom I consider friends. For others in the movement, I have helped facilitate connections through online networks and newsletters, and promoted awareness of a potential common identity through my writings. In terms of resource mobilisation, I have benefited from people in the movement commissioning me to work with them on projects, and I have created more resources for such work by helping to conceive new non-profit organisations working on corporate responsibility that now have incomes of over a million dollars. In terms of opportunity structures, I have now benefited from the efforts of others to help shift the mainstream corporate responsibility agenda onto a more transformative one, and, for others in the movement, I have helped shape discursive opportunities through successfully challenging some mainstream interpretations of concepts through my writings.”

The book

The Corporate Responsibility Movement: Five Years of Global Corporate Responsibility Analysis from Lifeworth, 2001-2005

Jem Bendell et al. March 2009 387+viii pp 234 x 156 mm paperback ISBN 978-1-906093-18-1 £72.00

The advisors

This exercise was prepared by Dr Jem Bendell, Lifeworth Consulting, a responsible enterprise strategy advisory, evaluation, education, inspiration and liaison service.

Posted in Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth | Leave a Comment »