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June 2008

Welcome to the Spring Semester Update from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative (CSRI). This newsletter summarizes our research and engagement activities so far this calendar year. Thank you for your interest and participation.

CSRI’s website is one of the most highly viewed program sites at the Kennedy School. Our publications are viewed about 35, 000 times monthly. View our newly expanded website today.

Core Research Programs
Other External Engagement
Building Corporate-Community Partnerships


The CSR Initiative’s research focuses on two main areas:
(1) Governance and Accountability – to explore new multistakeholder models of accountability in addressing issues such as business and human rights and environmental quality, and
(2) Business and International Development – to explore how business, working with others, can mobilize resources for development, with a focus on expanding economic opportunity and strengthening public health systems.


The Role of Business & Human Rights
Prof. John Ruggie, CSRI Faculty Chair and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, released his mandated report entitled “Protect, Respect, and Remedy: A Framework for Business and Human Rights” in April.  The framework set forth in this report rests on differentiated but complementary responsibilities: the state duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for more effective access to remedies. Prof. Ruggie presented his recommendations at the UN Human Rights Council’s session in Geneva this month. His work as SRSG was recently cited in the Financial Times, American Law Daily, The Guardian, The Economist, the UN Global Compact Quarterly, and Ethical Corporation Magazine, among others.

Amy Lehr, CSRI research fellow, served as an advisor to the Business Leaders Initiative for Human Rights (BLIHR), speaking at its April meeting in Bangalore and providing expertise as it develops human rights tools and case studies focusing on how companies can contribute to human rights.

Corporations and Human Rights: Accountability Mechanisms for Resolving Complaints and Disputes
CSRI published three documents in February that resulted from a multi-stakeholder project led by CSRI Research Fellow Caroline Rees.  The project is examining the role and effectiveness of non-judicial grievance mechanisms in addressing disputes between companies and those whose human rights they may impact. “Rights-Compatible Grievance Mechanisms” is a guidance tool for companies and their stakeholders; “Mapping Grievance Mechanisms in the Business and Human Rights Arena” is a reference tool on different models of mechanism; and “Corporations and Human Rights: Accountability Mechanisms for Resolving Complaints and Disputes” reports on the second of two multi-stakeholder workshops that helped shape this project.  One message from this process was that a lack of information about such grievance mechanisms hinders both their usage and their improvement.  Moving ahead, Rees is working with various partner institutions to develop a web-based interface that could help address these information barriers.

New Directions in Environmental Accountability
Working with the Regulatory Policy Program at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, CSRI Executive Director Jennifer Nash is examining why some firms choose to participate in voluntary initiatives, the potential of these approaches to engage large numbers of firms as members, and the best ways to measure results.  This work has led to several new working papers, listed in the Publications section below. Voluntary initiatives are proliferating at the federal and state levels, and agencies are collecting substantial amounts of information about their impacts.


Expanding Economic Opportunity
Beth Jenkins, Director of Policy Studies, is working with the International Finance Corporation to author a report on the development of “mobile money ecosystems” – the networks of institutions that must be in place for mobile banking and payment systems to take root and go to scale. The Developing Mobile Money Ecosystems report will build on existing literature and on the proceedings of the May 13-16 GSMA-IFC Mobile Money Summit in Cairo, Egypt. The Summit gathered nearly 50 CEOs and other senior leaders along with over 400 international participants from the telecommunications, banking, and technology industries, as well as government and the international development community. Drawing upon their insights and others, the report will identify key challenges and opportunities to support and accelerate the development of mobile money ecosystems.

Jane Nelson contributed a chapter to a United Nations Economic and Social Affairs Council (ECOSOC) book on "Strengthening Efforts to Eradicate Poverty and Hunger: Dialogues at the Economic and Social Council." The book highlights discussion that took place during the ECOSOC meetings at the 2007 High-level Segment. Nelson's chapter is on Business as a Partner in Eradicating Poverty.

Jane Nelson contributed a chapter to the Brookings Institution's "Global Development 2.0 Can Philanthropists, the Public and the Poor Make Poverty History?" The book, based on conversations at the 2007 Brookings-Blum Roundtable, discusses trends in the global development economy and offers suggestions to ensure lasting and widespread improvements in the fight against poverty. Nelson's chapter is on Affecting Change through Accountable Channels.

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  • In February, more than 90 corporate leaders came together to discuss international corporate volunteering at an event co-hosted by The Brookings Institution; City Volunteers of New York; The Conference Board; the CSR Initiative; The International Business Leaders Forum and FSG Social Impact Advisors. Participants shared best practices from their companies’ efforts to support local and global volunteering to benefit both business and society. FSG recently published one of the first comprehensive studies of international corporate volunteering, creating a strategic framework to help companies develop high-impact global programs.

  • In April, the CSR Initiative co-sponsored a workshop for New Orleans neighborhood leaders entitled “Building Effective Partnerships: Increasing Community-Level Resources and Impact through Cross-Sector Alliances.” The workshop was the third part of the Kennedy School Broadmoor Project’s Neighborhood Leadership Forum Series to engage students, faculty, fellows, and staff in the recovery of Broadmoor, a New Orleans neighborhood heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The goal of the Forum Series was to support and learn from neighborhood leaders and social entrepreneurs by sharing best practices in identifying, building, and maintaining successful partnerships. The CSRI-led event included presentations from four neighborhood leaders highlighting the variety of roles that partners have played since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in September 2005. Generous support for the Neighborhood Leadership Forum series was provided by Shell Oil Company and Walter Shorenstein, among others.

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During the spring, CSRI sponsored and co-sponsored 13 seminars by leading CSR scholars and practitioners. Agendas, PowerPoint presentations, and research papers are now available on our website for many of these gatherings. Our events provide a forum for engaging in the public, private, and civil society sectors with students and other members of the Harvard community through dialogue around emerging trends and critical issues in corporate responsibility, business-government relations, as well as regulation.

The following events were co-sponsored with the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the Regulatory Policy Program.

The CSR Initiative co-sponsored a John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum Event with the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights, the Institute of Politics.

"Worker Protection in Global Value Chains: The Role of Government, Business, and Civil Society"

  • Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative; President of Ireland (1990-1997); UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002)
  • Richard Freeman, Faculty Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School and Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics, Harvard University
  • John Ruggie, Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Chris Stone, Faculty Director, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations and Guggenheim Professor of the Practice of Criminal Justice, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Marty Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard Kennedy School

For a list of all our Spring 2008 events and presentations, please visit our website.

For news on upcoming events for the 2008-2009 academic year, check our website events calendar at the end of the summer.

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Since January, the CSR Initiative has completed three reports and eleven working papers. All of our publications are available to download on our website.



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