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Our research

The Responsible Business Centre's research programme is guided by three main principles:

  • to contribute to the development of cutting-edge research in responsible and sustainable management
  • to engage with practitioners and academics in an expanding global network
  • to promote research and findings widely and in an accessible form.

Research Projects


  • Improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in Ghana
    • Environmental and climate change issues, combined with low income and productivity for female cocoa farmers, has highlighted the gender equality gap in Ghana's cocoa industry with negative implications for livelihoods.
    • This research focuses on how to harvest cocoa waste to create a sustainable and resource-rich industry for a multi-dimensional benefit of offering alternative employment, reversing inequality, improving climate resilience, promoting soil fertility for sustainable production and securing community and contribute to national development.
    • Contact Fred Yamoah for more information.
  • Corporate social responsibility and national competitiveness
    • This research focuses on the impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies on national competitiveness. Current research in the field of 'Business and Society' has mainly focused on the impact of CSR at the firm level, ignoring its impact at macro-economic level.
    • This research project connects CSR and international competitiveness literature in order to examine CSR in a wider competition environment. Within a new integrative conceptual framework from international economics, strategic management and CSR literature, we have examined the impact of CSR on the national standards of living of 19 developed countries over a six-year period. The results, so far, suggest that CSR positively affects national living standards, as measured by per capita GDP.
    • This project identifies particular CSR-based national strategies which can deliver National Competitive Advantage. Within this framework, various factors from the institutional environment of each country are being examined in their capacity to moderate the relationship between CSR and national living standards. So far, the strength of the national innovation system has been examined and preliminary results suggest that countries with low innovation culture can benefit even more from CSR-based national strategies.
    • Related publication: Boulouta, I. and Pitelis, C. (2014) Who Needs CSR? The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on National Competitiveness, Journal of Business Ethics, 119(3):349-364.
    • Contact Ioanna Boulouta for more information.

Corporate Governance

  • Corporate boards and socially responsible behaviour
    • This research project is concerned with socially responsible decision making at the corporate boards of directors. In particular, we look at how ethical/social dilemmas and subsequent responses to aid are affected by various stereotypes. These stereotypes may dictate various 'appropriate' responses which sometimes can be at odds with each other. For example, previous research has found that 'female' stereotypes are incompatible with 'leadership' stereotypes. In addition, it has been found that female directors who violate any of these stereotypes are penalised in their performance evaluations.
    • Our work in this area examines whether female directors may find a way through Corporate Social Responsibility to manage the competitive tensions in board rooms and improve their performance evaluations by improving the social performance of their firms.
    • Related publication: Boulouta, I. (2013) Hidden Connections: The Link Between Board Gender Diversity and Corporate Social Performance, Journal of Business Ethics, 113(2): 185-197.
    • Contact Ioanna Boulouta for more information.


  • Does public trust in business affect the CSR returns on investment?
    • There has been a long debate in the literature on whether socially responsible activities have an impact on the financial performance of the company. What is certain, however, is that the variability of empirical results suggests the need to examine various contingencies that produce variable results.
    • The goal of this project is to examine institutional level contingencies and specifically the role of public trust in corporations. In this context, we examine how the financial returns on CSR investments vary across countries with varying levels of public trust in corporations.
    • Contact Ioanna Boulouta for more information.

employment relations

  • Sweatshops
  • Trade union responses to whistleblowing
    • This project looks at how trade unions engage in supporting members to raise concerns with their employer or wider society.
    • The research seeks to understand the factors that contribute to the union's position and identify how they might be able to utilise their position to improve whistleblowing situations.
    • Contact Arron Phillips for more information.
  • Whistleblowing and trade unions
    • This study looks at how trade unions in three countries have been involved in bringing whistleblowing laws into being alongside subsequent revisions.
    • It seeks to understand and identify what factors affect trade union engagement.
    • Contact Arron Phillips for more information.

responsible marketing

  • Consumer reactions to cause related marketing campaigns with varying geographic scope

Sustainable Finance

  • Integrated reporting and short termism
    • The aim of this project is to investigate whether a financial reporting initiative that aims to improve sustainability of capital markets by reducing the short-term nature of managerial decision making has the desired effect.
    • Contact Karin Shields for more information.
  • Greenwashing in environmental, social and governance disclosures
    • In this project, we define 'greenwashers' as firms which seem very transparent and reveal large quantities of ESG data but perform poorly in ESG aspects. We measure the extent to which large-cap firms engage in greenwashing by creating peer-relative greenwashing scores.
    • We aim to find out the possible effective factors to attenuate firms' misleading disclosure relating to ESG dimensions.
    • Contact Ellen Yu for more information.