Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: Two perspectives on business ethics and corporate sustainability

Business ethics and sustainability were the topics that brought together two academics, Bryan Husted , from the Monterrey Technological Institute and Lynn Paine , an academic from the Harvard University School of Business , in two successive presentations of the series of Conferences on Applied Ethics UC. Both pointed to the need for changes.

The rector Ignacio Sánchez prefaced the first conference, highlighting the effort it represents for the company “to understand the impacts on ecosystems and manage interests –sometimes conflicting– in a complex, fragmented society with a deficit of social capital.” The first presentation was given by the academic Bryan Husted , from the Monterrey Technological Institute , who was invited by Professor Jorge Tarzijan , from the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences , it dealt with “Business ethics and corporate sustainability in Latin America: current challenges and proposals ”.

Related to the same topic, in another presentation of the UC Applied Ethics Conferences cycle, Lynn Paine , an academic at the Harvard University School of Business , formulated a challenge under the title “Getting serious about sustainability: corporate governance for a new it was ” . Professor Paine’s participation responds to a joint initiative of Professor Juan Eduardo Ibañez , from the Law School , and Marcela Renteria , Executive Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (Harvard University) .

Even though both approached the issue from different perspectives, both agreed on the need to speed up changes in corporate governance with a view to also sustainable performance . And for both of them, these innovations must make the company move from an individualistic imprint to a community vision.

Innovations must make the company move from an individualistic imprint to a community vision.


The visions of the academics differed, although they complement each other, at the time of providing background information on the reality discussed and its projections.

Underlining his Latin American approach, based on the reality of Mexico, Husted argued that the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been applied focused on the company and the elites that influence each other, without adequate consideration of the bases: “with frequently, corporate social responsibility tends to reinforce power relations between multinationals and the elite ”. He criticized that “in the definitions of social responsibility there is a focus on mutual benefit, in which projects must benefit society and the environment, but must be achieved without negative consequences for profits.”

“Often times, corporate social responsibility tends to reinforce power relations between multinationals and the elite.” – Bryan Husted, Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey

Share
As a way of reversing the distortion that he appreciates in CSR, the academic proposed that corporations opt for what he calls “good living,” which implies developing indigenous approaches that incorporate a local cultural base, whose priority is to promote human and social flourishing. nature; replace the concept of growth with a conception of ecosystem well-being.

For her part, Lynn Paine, who recognized that corporate governance in the United States and Europe is indeed changing something, but still leaving many questions unanswered, saw the need to move towards a new form of governance to achieve another way of understanding the economy. The academic raised this challenge: “if we want to develop an economy that is more inclusive and sustainable, then we must have an adequate governance system that allows that objective.”

This new governance system entails a change in strategy from the sole consideration of the shareholders, “who seek that the business maximize its own economic returns, without taking into account the externalities or the costs imposed on third parties”, to a governance that takes into account counts all stakeholders.

According to this proposal, corporations are understood as independent entities, they are not “owned” by shareholders in a conventional sense, and the administration of the corporation falls to the board of directors, “whose duty is to act in the best interest of the company. corporation ”, that is, in the best interest of all those who are linked or affected by that company.

“If we want to develop an economy that is more inclusive and sustainable, then we must have an adequate governance system that enables that goal” – Lynn Paine, Harvard Business School scholar


The next talk will be given by John Broome on Tuesday, October 5 at 12:00 hrs. It will be titled “Self-interest against climate change.”

Comments are closed.