The firm is more than a unit of production: it has become the main unit of contemporary society. Its strategies, investment and research policies, and employment practices have a great impact on society as a whole. The firm’s actions within society, as reflected in its practices of social responsibility, can open the way to positive change. Firm actions can also, however, contribute to social problems. Work undertaken in this project seeks to deepen knowledge of the relationship between social policies and economic performance.
Corporate governance is not disconnected from the political and cultural environment that surrounds it. The rules and regulations by which firms are governed are themselves reflections of the mentalities and intellectual evolution of contemporary society, which call for greater transparency, democracy, and the monitoring of corporate power. The firm, therefore, can be seen as a political arena where people themselves are affected by principles of «good governance» that society at large establishes at every point in human history. The demands for «social responsibility» are a new means by which the firm and society at large define together the rights and duties of each social actor in a democratic capitalist society.
Our research agenda focuses on two questions:
How can it be determined that a practice of governance is «good»?
By analyzing the language of annual reports, CEO pronouncements, as well as statements produced by professional organizations and the media, we seek to understand how «best practices» of governance are justified. What is the logic of justification? What arguments are employed? Using a database of texts, we seek to determine objectively how certain themes emerge and grow in importance: themes such as the «fair» compensation for managers, transparency, and shareholder power.
Are entrepreneurial behaviours compatible with governance practices that are becoming ever stricter?
Contemporary liberal society is founded, on the one hand, on economic power and the aura of the entrepreneur, and on the other hand, on the mechanisms of the democratic limitations of power. How are these two opposing forces balanced between the desirable effects of sufficient autonomy for entrepreneurs and the need to reduce the risks associated with entrepreneurial activity? What governance mechanisms best assure this balance?
Our published works dealing with these issues (see publications) are supplemented by qualitative research that seeks to understand how these same issues are dealt with in non-Western cultural areas, such as in India and China.
If you would like to contribute to this research stream, contact Pierre-Yves Gomez
To be kept up to date about this research area, subscribe to our newsletter.