Tragedies in corporate life like Enron (US) and Ahold (Netherlands) sprung from the ambiguous role accountants played towards the corporation and vice versa and from the matter of accountability of management in general. Major oil companies like Shell (being unable to implement changes in its operations in Nigeria has recently even been removed from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index) and BP (confronted with uncontrollable problems leading to unprecedented environmental consequences in the Gulf of Mexico) must, under scrutiny of public opinion, rethink the sustainability of their global strategy and their relations with all constituencies. The financial and proceeding social debacle as a result of the takeover of ABN Amro by Fortis, Bank of Scotland and Banco Santander is another eye-opener, triggering a variety of questions in the relationship between the corporation and actors surrounding and influencing the corporation and its policy, as well as the interrelation between these stakeholders. These and many other examples have a broad impact on various parts of the corporate world and its stakeholders. The discussion about the use of anti takeover devices was heavily influenced, the position of the various supervising bodies is at stake, the predominant role of the capital suppliers seems to increase and last but not least the current law and economics based approach of the relation between capital suppliers and management tends to lose its importance for the lawyers view on the structure of the corporation. Altogether these changes lead to the need for coherent and fundamental analyses, rethinking and adjusting the structure of the corporation as well as that of its constituencies in order to contribute to a more socially responsible approach. DQ will provide a platform to do so.
The situation described before also did lead to a strong need amongst various corporate stakeholders for an effective platform to analyse and discuss corporate structures. This should be a platform where internal and external changes which modern corporations have to face could be viewed and analyzed in relation to e.g. the positions of managers, employees, shareholders, financial institutions, corporations, governments, social organisations and scientists. Such a hybrid new forum where corporate practice in this changing environment meets science had to be created. With this very different approach and also keeping in mind the sweeping social changes that we will face in the decades to come, DQ will be able to shed new light on the actual international corporate performance as well as most recent corporate scandals in various parts of the world and their causes. Moreover, it should contribute to a new mindset of parties affecting, or being affected by, the actions of the business as a whole, preventing these scandals to happen.
Today’s, but definitely tomorrow’s requirements for corporations will be vastly different from the requirements that our primarily economically driven societies have had in the past few decades. More and more the rate of development of our communities will increase in a direction in which corporate objectives will need to be broadened. The new standard for “business as usual” of corporate policies will be the balance between social, environmental and economic dimensions. This trend is known as sustainable development and for corporations as corporate social responsibility. During the past two decades, companies in the present dominant structure (corporations with stockholder activism or otherwise confronted with active stakeholders) have proven to be unable to adjust sufficiently to changing social demands. These companies will be even less capable of actively promoting this transition in the interest of their own long-term objectives. Therefore, necessarily, the structure of companies must be analysed and amended from that perspective combined with carefully monitoring those changes and developments in society that influence stakeholder positions and approaches. These and related crucial challenges will be at the core of the articles for which Dovenschmidt Quarterly will provide the appropriate forum.
Sustainability literature shows that over the last 25 years the world has been - metaphorically speaking - paved with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and projects. During this period of time the design, development and realization of CSR programs and projects certainly improved in content as well as in professional levels. In front running companies CSR did move from the corporate periphery to the core business and in some companies it even became an essential part of corporate strategy. CSR became more mature, better measurable and last but not least CSR itself became a more coherent concept in its social, environmental and economic dimensions. CSR developed into various protocols and guidelines – like OECD, GRI, Global Compact, etc. - in which even the rudiments of soft law are already apparent. CSR performance is increasingly documented in corporate sustainability reports and at the same time it became externally evaluated, ranked and rated. Especially the more long lasting CSR programs and projects in companies have proven to create a corporate competitive edge, incremental and radical innovations, corporate renewal and a positive effect on the financial bottom-line. All this made CSR promoting executives and CSR managers more respected professionals in their front running companies compared to earlier days in this development. In pursuit of sustainable development it became clear that from a government perspective, from a non-governmental organization perspective as well as from a business perspective CSR became the right thing to do and does reflect the corporate contribution to a more sustainable development of society. Recently Porter and Kramer even proclaimed that a new phase in CSR did occur in which the new CSR business paradigm will be “creating shared value” and the purpose of the corporation must be redefined around (HBR, 2011).
This may all be true in the view of those in the frontline of CSR developments but the peloton of the vast majority of companies, where the major contribution towards a more sustainable future still has to be made, does not move at all. In this perspective the success rates in CSR programs and projects still do not match expectations and the CSR induced changes occur to be too slow and too small in magnitude to bring sustainable development in due time. In real life the CSR and sustainable development induced corporate performance does stop at the borderline of a relatively small number of front running companies and the spin-off to the business community as a whole remains very limited. Even within the front running companies the embedding of CSR in existing corporate structures proves to be extremely vulnerable as well and does show high levels of fall-out. For example a takeover of a company or even a change in the composition of its Executive Board and/or Supervisory Board could instantly bring the corporate CSR performance to square one. Many other factors that have an impact on the short and long-term success and failure of CSR programs and projects are already extensively described and analyzed in literature but at the same time literature does not show much insight into the relative importance of these factors and into the relevant interconnections.
On the basis of their research and on their broad spectrum of professional expertise the members of the startup team for the DQ became more and more convinced that CSR will not occur without a vast transitions in corporate life, corporate law, regulation and governance. Therefore DQ will certainly challenge the broadly supported perception in society that there is no substantial role for corporate law and regulation in speeding up CSR development.
In line with the former statements DQ aims to put on the agenda and thoroughly analyse the transition in social demands in relation to actual and potential impacts on companies, corporate law, regulation as well as corporate governance. Impacts to be discussed concern the form, nature, structure, mission, strategy, policy, technological and organisational innovations, business cases, business models and last but not least the overall performance of companies in social, environmental and economic dimensions. Attention will also be given to – what we call - constructive corporate law assessment. In doing so DQ will encounter and document those possible changes in company law and company management with potential drivers in the direction of CSR.
The audience to be targeted will be as hybrid as this approach of the journal. It will target as the potential audiences various stakeholders like supervisory board members, executive board members (CEO, CFO, CLO, COO), managers, employees, shareholders, financial institutions, corporations, administrators, politicians, governments, social organisations, lawyers, economists, social engineers and academics.
First of all DQ will focus on its mission and related processes. The more successful in reaching its mission the more excellent articles and higher numbers of readers could be attracted. This will be decisive for the size of the impact factor (citation index related) of DQ. It seems too early to provide any figures but in qualitative terms DQ will focus on realizing its mission:
DQ will provide a key line in the study of corporate structures - with the corporation as its dominant representative - in relation to their biotope in transition, social and technological innovations, corporate social responsibility, business cases and business models and socially responsible governance.
DQ will be among the most relevant platforms for the broader social debate about directions in corporate law, regulation and governance which could stimulate a profound and timely rise of sustainable development and CSR.
DQ will be based on research and practice while at the same time DQ aims at challenging design of a new corporate framework and related (government) policies.
DQ will be an international and the multidisciplinary – sometimes interdisciplinary – review which is currently missing in this field.
DQ will provide challenging contributions which are presented from various perspectives, fields of expertise and legal systems.
DQ will provide assessments, new insights and theoretical approaches of the positions of the various stakeholders in their interrelations as well as in their relations with the corporation and their influence on corporate policies.
The startup team is responsible for the background, the initial content description, the arrangements with the publisher, the formation of a foundation as a legal vehicle of the Quarterly, the composition of the preliminary advisory board, the composition of the preliminary editorial board, the general content for the first 2 or 3 volumes and last but not least the organization of the first meetings of both boards in due time which will be fall 2011 and in 2012.
The startup team members and members of the preliminary editorial board in a random order are:
The startup team makes good progress and has created:
The startup team is yet involved in the formation of:
At this very moment the aim is to have about 10 to 12 members of the advisory board and about 6 to 8 members of the editorial board. Both advisory board and editorial board members are asked to agree upon a first term of 3 to 4 years. Most important we think is that DQ board members like to co-create DQ and will enjoy doing so. Board members are of course crucial for launching DQ and the first boards are of utmost importance for the direction to take, the content to cover, the overall mix of content per volume and for the quality to produce.
Therefore, we have decided upon profile criteria for the members of the international advisory board and the international editorial board. These criteria should contribute to the essential dimensions of DQ, like;
Therefore a combination of personal qualities is sought in the constituting disciplines of the D-Quarterly is of like:
We agreed upon an approach in which we subsequently invite potential members out of science, CSR/sustainable development, corporate community and non-governmental organizations. So we started to invite distinguished representatives from the fields of economics, law and economics, corporate law and governance.
Guido Calabresi (USA), Emeritus Prof. Law and Economics, Yale University, USA (Guido holds over 40 honorary degrees from universities worldwide).
John Armour (UK), Prof. Law and Finance, Oxford University.
Theo Baums (German), Prof. Law and Finance, Goethe University, Frankfurt
Henry Hansmann (USA), Prof. Law and Economics, Yale University, USA (Business Organizations; Contracts; Law, Economics, and Organization; Legal & Economic History of Enterprise)
After this we started to invite representatives from the Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility field (this activity is currently in progress):
Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel (France), former Assistant Director General of the United Nations Environment Program and Executive Director of the Technology, Industry and Economics Department located in Paris, Geneva and Osaka. Currently special advisor UNEP.
Ernst Ligteringen (CEO Global Reporting Initiative, to be confirmed). Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an international organization with a mission to make sustainability reporting standard practice, driving its vision of a sustainable global economy. Before joining GRI, Ligteringen worked at various non-governmental and international organizations. His positions included postings in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, as Executive Director of Oxfam International, Director of Program Coordination of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Consultant to the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization at the ILO.
John Elkington (Founder of SustainAbility, aanvullen)
And last but not least we will invite some representatives from the business community (process in preparation).
Zhang Xinzhu (China), Prof. Industrial Economics and Competition Policy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (Nanchang), China.
Roberto Pardolesi (It), Prof. Comparative Law and Private Law at the Institute Luiss Guido Carli and University of Palermo, Italy.
Besides these people who already did commit themselves, the process of invitation is in progress and aims at attracting for example:
The provisional dates set for the first meeting are 9 and 10 October 2011 in a nice, thought provoking and top residence in Italy. The idea is that the Advisory Board expresses its involvement primarily during the annual meeting which will be organized at an attractive location. Our first meeting will take place in Santa Margherita Ligure in Italy in the beautiful Hotel Miramare (http://www.grandhotelmiramare.it). Grand Hotel Miramare has formed the background of Perlmann's Silence, a dramatic novel about a linguistic conference situated in relatively quiet seaside town near Genoa, by Pascale Mercier of which novel you soon will receive a copy to already be able to sense the atmosphere.
As we have lined out in our launching document DQ will primarily aim at being a new, multidisciplinary, challenging and creative platform for various corporate stakeholders to analyze, discuss and develop corporate structures in perspective of internal and external changes. DQ is about the transitions in corporate life, law, regulation and governance in relation to the changes driven by primarily corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.
We expect from our advisory board members to provide input for the Dovenschmidt Quarterly in general and its mission more in particular. We expect the advisory board will provide their insights into how the DQ mission could be addressed most effectively, creatively and stimulating. We also expect that the advisory board could help create a proper balance in the multidisciplinary approach and in the ways our audiences could be addressed.
The advisory board is also asked to provide their insights in actual developments, their assessment of far reaching developments and upcoming issues in the relevant fields of interest of the DQ (see also our earlier Appendix about the launch of the Dovenschmidt Quarterly). The AB is asked to assist in adequately translating those issues into a challenging approach and content for DQ. The different backgrounds of our board members will provide and guarantee the specific flavor in discussions and its outcomes. We will ask suggestions for themes, subjects, authors and for multi-disciplinary approaches for the relevant issues as well as access to coordinates of possible interested readers . Besides this the time to invest in DQ will be held to an absolute minimum for the AB members. In due cases an advisory board members will be asked to provide their advice on specific issues by the chief editor of DQ.
For the moment we aim at an English Journal but as soon as opportunities occur we will be open to suggestions for an Asian or other version.
We will attract input for the DQ globally. We will find relevant authors first of all in cooperation with our board members and through our own networks. Besides this we will establish an active involvement of some leading institutes in the fields of CSR, the business community, sustainable finance, accountancy, governmental and non-governmental organizations, economics, law and economics, corporate law and governance by doing so we will tape from a broader pool of authors for relevant articles in the forefront of thinking and practices.
At this very moment the marketing strategy and approach is designed in close cooperation with the publisher and will be public before the autumn meetings.
The Journal will be distributed online as well as on paper. The exact model to is under development but it will be set up to have a broad audience from the start. See next question.
The approach will be chosen of starting up with a large scale free distribution and after a certain number of issues DQ can be purchased by subscription. The price for this is not set yet but will be market conform.