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Berlin Study Group on Corporate Responsibility

The Challenge

Research on corporate responsibility (CR) is at a crossroads. While the CR practices and standards have proliferated globally in the last years, the drivers and effectiveness of CR remain poorly understood for at least three reasons. First, CR scholarship remains fragmented across disciplines with insufficient integration. A key issue here concerns the relation between CR as voluntary action and private governance, on one hand, and formal regulatory institutions and forms of governance, on the other. Second, the drivers of responsible corporate practices need to be understood in dialogue with pressures and temptations of irresponsible corporate practices. Third, a large gap remains between theories of CR and the state of empirical research, including the complex issue of how to measure and compare CR across contexts given its socially constructed and highly contested nature.

Berlin has emerged as an internationally important “Standort” for research relevant to CR in recent years, in all its social, environmental, and other aspects. At the same time, this work is fragmented across different Berlin universities and academic departments. Establishing regular exchange of ideas presents an important means to sharpen Berlin’s profile in CR research, and more importantly to improve our own individual and collective research efforts in addressing the important challenges in our field.

The Idea

 The Berlin study group on CR (CR Berlin) is guided by the following considerations:

    • The meeting invites professors, post-doctoral and doctoral researchers to present and discuss our own work, as well as cross-cutting themes of mutual interest (e.g. particular theories, methods, etc.);
    • A “study group” based on mutual learning and interdisciplinary approach;
    • A broad-based initiative across Berlin universities and research institutes;
    • Regular meetings at least three times per teaching semester;
    • Meeting formats may vary. Most sessions involve the presentation and discussion of two research papers. Other formats have included the presentation of PhD proposals, thematic sessions of research methods, and round table events involving practitioners and policy makers, and

The inaugural meeting of the CR Berlin study group was on March 7, 2011. The group started as a collaborative effort among three founding members Nicole Helmerich (Hertie School of Governance), Professor Gregory Jackson (FU Berlin), and Professor Joachim Schwalbach (HU Berlin). Since this time, the study group has grown in scope and involvement with over 100 members. Study group meetings been organized by and hosted with support of several Berlin academic institutions: the FU Berlin, Hertie School of Governance, ESMT, WZB, and HU Berlin. We have also welcomed numerous visiting academics in Berlin both as presenters and audient participants.

The Invitation

We welcome interested members of the academic community to attend our workshops. New members are welcome to attend sessions announced on this webpage as public events without prior registration, unless otherwise indicated. We also have a mailing list with occasional updates on the schedule of events and for members to circulate information on opportunities related to CR research in the Berlin area.

The group is currently coordinated by Professor Gregory Jackson and Sigurt Vitols, PhD. If you wish to contact us directly about organizing or participating in a session or concerning other organizational matters, please send an email to Julia Bartosch.