Rebuilding Ethical Governance: A panel Symposium at the AoM 2015 Conference  

ethicsThe Academy of Management (AoM) annual conference must be among the biggest academic meetings in the world, as there were over 10,000 participants when the conference was held in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2015.

The Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility at Leeds Beckett University successfully organised and presented a panel symposium at the conference with a hot topic of ethical governance. The panellists included Simon Robinson, William Sun, Simon Gardiner and Jamie Morgan from the Centre, Catherine Karyotis from NEOMA Business School, France, and Henri Kuokkanen from Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland. Professor Mervyn King, an internationally influential figure in corporate governance, best known for chairing the King Committee on Corporate Governance in South Africa, which issued three comprehensive reports in 1994, 2002 and 2009, was among the audience at the symposium.

The symposium was held to facilitate a global-wide discussion on how to rebuild ethical governance so as to tackle systemic governance failures in both private and public Sectors. The panel reminded us that the current ethical governance frameworks have failed in practice. The key problems are, first of all, ethics is separate from, and then attached to, business and public service, rather than integral to the whole capitalist system, and secondly, ethical governance is purely based on voluntariness and self-regulation, lacking the mechanisms of monitoring and enforcement, and thus ineffective in practice.

The panel suggested that rebuilding ethical governance would require an integrated thinking in ethical governance and demand public engagement and deliberative democracy in ethical decision making. The panel called for redesigning ethical governance structures and mechanisms to formulate a practically workable and effective governance system. This new system has four key components as its structures and mechanisms: (1) Ethical approval on key decisions by internal ethical committees in private and public organisations, (2) Ethical monitoring by the public, mainly through the establishment of boards of statutory ethical auditors, (3) Ethical enforcement for all ethical judgements by ethical courts or tribunals, and (4) New and existing ethical governance networks (national and international) as supplements to the above structures and for global governance.

Dr William Sun

William is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility. He has published widely on the subjects of corporate governance, CSR, sustainability, company law and transition economics, with over 70 journal papers and more than 30 authored or edited books. He is editor of the well-received book series Critical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability published by Emerald Group Publishing since 2010.

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