Dear Fellow AIB Members,
Described below are descriptions of five topics that lend themselves well to panels for the upcoming AIB-UKI and AIB conferences in 2022. The descriptions should be considered as very much a first draft, as the final focus and content of each panel will be determined by those who are interested in participating in them.
Panel 1: Inclusive GVC Governance to Achieve the SDGs Within Their GSCs
The pandemic has exposed how a highly unequal power structure within the global value chains (GVC) disadvantages those parts of the chain which have the least say in, or control over, how the GVC works. This is especially true for those parts of the GVC that also are part of a global supply chain (GSC). It can be argued, though, that efforts by multinational enterprises (MNEs) to work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had already demonstrated the existence of this unequal power structure. For example, when an MNE pronounces that it intends to, say, promote gender equality, safe working conditions, a reduction in its carbon footprint or environmental protection, throughout its GVC and/or its GSC, it mostly is up to the local entities within them to comply with the MNE’s directives even if the resources or capabilities that could be put toward satisfying those directives were insufficient or even non-existent.
This raises an intriguing governance issue that, in the interests of creating a more inclusive, more sustainable and fairer form of international business, needs to be addressed. This panel will discuss, through theoretical and practical lenses, what it would take for a more inclusive GVC/GSC governance structure to be created, possible current examples of such an inclusive governance structure, and the implications such a structure would have for all stakeholders involved in achieving the SDGs.
Panel 2: The Challenge of Interconnected Thinking
The forces of globalization, climate change and sustainability are highly interconnected, however approaches to address them too often are not. There are many reasons for this. One is that negative externalities such as environmental and/or societal degradation have not been included in the costs of doing business. And another is that strategists, managers and policy makers have not really been trained to either look for, see or value those connections. In a sense, it is like the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ when the ‘Commons’ is the Earth and the ‘tragedy’ is what is being done to it and our too-often ineffectual attempts to mitigating the damage. We not only have difficulty seeing the full extent of the damage we have done and are doing, but also how proposed solutions in one area can affect what happens in another.
This panel will present examples of how interconnectedness is being manifested across globalization, climate change and sustainability, discuss the shortcomings in how we are trained to deal with interconnected issues, and suggest ways interconnected thinking within international business can be brought into how all aspects of it are researched and taught.
Panel 3: Putting Structure to ESG Reporting
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors are becoming increasingly important as measures to guide investors who want to invest more responsibly, for firms that want to demonstrate that they are behaving responsibly, and for consumers who want to support those firms. While this is commendable, there are no consistent standards for ESG standards, meaning that it can be difficult for investors and consumers to be confident in the legitimacy of the ESG actions firms are taking. It also makes it easier for firms to make themselves look better than they might otherwise be.
This panel will discuss the current state of ESG reporting, describe its benefits, discuss its shortcomings, and suggest ways it can be standardized.
Panel 4: Creating Impactful Agents of Change
In most climate models, the path called ‘business as usual’ is the one which will lead society to environmental disaster by as early as 2050. The other paths, which in varying degrees mitigate the perilous path ‘business as usual’ has put us on, all will require different ways of thinking, different ways of doing, different ways of acting – in business as well as in virtually every other facet of society. Simply put, things have to change and change quickly, but the people who will cause that change have to be taught to think, do and act differently. And we as educators have to be at the forefront of creating those change agents.
The purpose of this panel is exploring how we as IB scholars and educators can best transform our teaching methods and philosophies to enable our students to be the kind of impactful agents of change needed to guide society through the perilous years ahead.
Panel 5: Correcting 'Bad' Behavior in IB
Even though socially responsible behavior is on the lips of - and in the public-facing reports produced by - MNEs, socially irresponsible (or 'bad') behavior persists. Examples of this 'bad' behavior include environmental abuses in the production and distribution of products and the violation of human rights (especially labor abuses) in the production and distribution of products.
This panel will provide examples of current socially irresponsible behavior and the efforts being made to expose it, and discuss how IB scholars and educators can help ensure that such behavior can be eliminated.
Please let me know if you are interested in being involved in any of these panels, and, if so, what you have in mind as a contribution. Full papers are not necessary; in fact, treat these panel ideas as an opportunity to discuss something in which you are interested that could be developed further into potentially publishable work.
My role will be to fully develop the panel proposal based on your input and submit it to whichever conference the panelists decide is appropriate. For AIB 2022, the track toward which the panel will be targeted also will be determined by the panel's content.
The deadline for AIB 2022 panel submissions is January 10th, so if you are interested in that one I need to hear from you very soon. AIB-UKI panel submissions are about a month later.
Looking forward to hearing your ideas and working with you!