YORKwrites: Prolific profs publish texts on corporate responsibility

YORKwrites, a joint presentation of York University Libraries and York University Bookstore, showcases and celebrates the breadth and depth of York’s scholarly publications, research and creative work. From now until Nov. 5, YFile and YORKwrites will shine a spotlight on various University innovators and creators. Here is the second in a series.

Professors Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten of York’s Schulich School of Business have received international acclaim for their collaborative research in corporate social responsibility and business ethics. In the past two years, they have published four textbooks and started a blog focused on what it means to practise responsible business in this age of globalization.

Left: Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten in South Africa, where they recently launched two books at a conference of the International Society of Business, Economics and Ethics

Producing textbooks has been a priority for Crane and Matten because it provides the opportunity to educate a large audience. Their books have been adopted at business schools worldwide.  

Their first was Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2006). Their second was Corporate Social Responsibility: Readings And Cases In A Global Context (Routledge, 2007), co-edited with Laura Spence of London’s Brunel University. In 2007, the co-editors produced a third, the three-volume Corporate Social Responsibility (Sage, 2007). And this year, a fourth title appeared, The Oxford Handbook Of Corporate Social Responsibility (Oxford University Press, 2008), designed as an introduction to the field. 

In January, Crane and Matten started a blog on business ethics and corporate responsibility. It gives them the flexibility to comment on the latest global developments and engage directly with readers and students, making it a useful teaching tool. The blog attracts visitors locally and worldwide. “I think what surprised me most is that we have people from all over the world finding the blog often by accident and reading it,” says Matten. “It’s a mixture – from colleagues down to complete strangers.” This fall, they plan to create links between the blog and their textbooks as part of their teaching. 

The challenge and appeal of their research lies in its broad perspective and interdisciplinarity. “For us, this is a great area where there are no clear rights or wrongs, where there are different perspectives where you can analyze a problem in all its complexity,” Crane explains. They also like it because they can explore real life issues and problems. “I think that we are very much driven by the approach of trying to understand issues and problems rather than advance a certain theoretical school of thought," Crane says. “We make contributions to theory along the way, but I think that’s not how we are driven and what interests us, and [what’s behind] the kinds of questions we ask.”

Currently, Crane and Matten have moved in a new direction, exploring the political responsibility of corporations. Their newest publication, Corporations and Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2008), is due to hit bookstands today. It was written with Jeremy Moon from Nottingham University Business School, UK.

“Business is not just an economical or social institution, but also a political institution,” says Matten. Crane adds that “many people don’t want to even acknowledge that businesses are involved in politics, but they simply are involved, whether they like it or not. So our work is on how to conceptualize that best and how to theorize about it.”

Want your work included in the YORKwrites database? Visit the YORKwrites Web site and let organizers know what you’ve published or created in the past year. The third annual YORKwrites reception takes place Nov. 5 at Steacie Science & Engineering Library.