Corporate impact measurement and management at the dawn of a new global sustainable development agenda

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Organised by PD DR. André Martinuzzi & Norma Schönherr,
Institute for Managing Sustainability, Vienna University of Economics and Business

This Call for Papers (Abstract submission is now closed) invites contributions for presentation at the Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference: Accelerating the Transition to Equitable, Sustainable Post-Fossil-Carbon Societies, workshop “Corporate impact measurement and management at the dawn of a new global sustainable development agenda” to be held in Sitges, near Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 1 – 4, 2015.

Business is a major driver of socio-economic development. Particularly, Multinational Companies (MNCs) affect billions of people across the world, through their products, operations, and supply chains (Oetzel and Doh, 2009; Meyer, 2004). The idea that corporations have certain responsibilities to society is well accepted in academic communities, business and policy making. However, consensus has yet to be reached regarding the nature and extent of this responsibility. So far, the academic debate has been placing a strong emphasis on how to define CSR (Dahlsrud, 2008) and on the question of whether CSR pays off (Carroll and Shabana, 2010; Martinuzzi and Krumay, 2013). An emerging strand of the CSR discourse now explicitly stresses the impacts of CSR in developing countries (Kolk & Tulder, 2010; Idemudia, 2011), and focuses attention on the role of multinational corporations in particular in furthering sustainable development, both in home and host countries (Blowfield, 2007 & 2012). The strong role attributed to business in contributing to the new global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provides new impetus to this discussion (UNGC, 2014).

Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fifteen years ago, the contribution of business has come under scrutiny from the international community for the broad variety of impacts attributed to them. Indeed, International bodies have increasingly moved towards benchmarking businesses against the extent to which they accept responsibility for the environmental and social impacts they cause (e.g., European Commission, 2011; ISO, 2010; UN, 2011). As Grayson and Hodges highlighted “[t]he attempt to consider how CSR might be ‘built in’ to the core business of firms as opposed to ‘bolt on’ as an extra has become a major theme in the CSR practitioner world.” (Grayson and Hodges, 2004, cited in Crane, Matten and Spence 2008, p.7).

At the same time, a wide range of impact assessment methods and tools have been developed by consultancies, civil society and international organisations, as well as researchers. They address different issue areas, link up with different management approaches and are designed in different formats (e.g. cp Ness, 2007; Lozano & Huisingh, 2011; Maas and Liket, 2011). As corporate impact measurement and management is gaining traction in research and business practice (Searcy, 2014; Schneider & Meins, 2012; WBCSD, 2013), CSR needs to be fundamentally rethought. Indeed, it is no longer under debate if, but rather how companies should measure and manage their social, environmental and economic impacts.

In this context, this workshop will address questions such as:

  • What are the impacts of MNCs on global development challenges at the end of the Millennium Development Goals and the onset of the SDGs?
  • What are the normative, conceptual and methodological challenges of sound corporate impact measurement and management in the context of the SDGs?
  • What kinds of tools and methods are currently available for measuring the business contribution to sustainable development, in general, and the SDGs, in particular?
  • What are the features and fields of applications for such tools? What are their benefits and limitations? 
  • What are the implications of enhanced societal expectations for transparency and accountability of business in the context of the SDGs? What does this mean for future impact measurement and management practice and research?
  • How are MNCs embedded into larger societal arrangements in developing countries and what are the implications for the impacts they take responsibility for?
  • How do MNCs collaborate with other actors towards enhancing positive and mitigating negative impacts?

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Papers

We invite authors to prepare abstracts of 500 words in English. Please submit your abstract(s) via the conference website:

After the Global Conference, scientific teams of the Global Conference will select the articles to be developed for peer review and for potential publication within one of several Special Volumes of the Journal of Cleaner Production that will be developed based upon outputs from the Global Conference.

For more information contact:
PD Dr. André Martinuzzi


Norma Schönherr


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Carroll, A. B. and Shabana, K. M. (2010). The business case for corporate social responsibility: A review of concepts, research and practice. International Journal of Management Reviews 12(1), 85-105.
Crane, A., Matten D. & Spence, L. J., (2008). Corporate social responsibility: in a global context, in A. Crane, D. Matten, L. J. Spence (eds.), Corporate Social Responsibility. Readings and cases in a global context, 3-20, Routledge, New York.
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