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Corporate Social Responsibility, Limited Liability, the Future of Globalisation

At the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), The Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD)
Sponsored by the Cambridge Journal of Economics (CJE), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Friends of the Earth
From 20 July 2007 to 21 July 2007


Presentation and call for papers

The Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London (UK), invites proposals for single or joint papers on corporate strategies and organisation in the global economy. Our particular focus will be on the role of limited corporate liability, but we are interested in contributions on a wide range of themes broadly relating to this particular focus.

Papers from the conference will be considered for inclusion in a Special Issue of the Cambridge Journal of Economics (edited by S. Blankenburg, D. Plesch and F. Wilkinson), as well as for a separate edited volume of conference proceedings.

Conference theme and objectives

For some time now, the increase in corporate power under the auspices of the global implementation of a neoliberal policy-agenda has been controversial. The role of corporate neo-liberalism is one of the key issues of international diplomacy as well as of the academic study of international economics. After the fall of socialism and of the Berlin Wall, a rapid expansion of neoliberal capitalism – often simply called 'globalisation' – followed suite. Yet, the glorious promise of the early days of more freedom and more prosperity is by now widely perceived to have failed the majority of the citizens of the newly globalised world: What dominates the headlines are tales of corruption, declining life expectancy and health in the population, weak labour rights and social security, of war and terrorism, of increased inequalities and social tension.

This conference is designed to make a specific and focused contribution to the on-going debate about the future of globalisation by taking a critical look at one of the central players –private corporations – and at an important 'rule of the game' that has become the preserve of these players in particular: corporate limited liability.

Business centred liberal democracy, as we know it, rose to power on the promise of equality before the law, equal opportunities for all, democratic accountability of its major institutions, and a considered balance between individuals' right to freedom of choice and decision, with a duty to account and be liable for the consequences. The much hailed 'good governance agenda' of leading international organisations, such as the World Bank, in many ways restates these principles and makes aid to developing economies dependent on their adherence to policies promoting free markets, democratic accountability, the rule of the law and political transparency. Of course, reality and principle have long been at loggerheads in many respects and many places. However, the fundamental exception - fundamental, because of its entrenched, largely un-refuted legal status and systematic application – is the exemption of one group in society from liability for their actions and decisions: The owner-shareholders of corporations operate under the legal rule of corporate limited liability.

In our view, a thorough re-examination of the role of corporate limited liability in today's global economy is, therefore, of utmost importance, and a central and useful conduit to a larger enquiry about the organisational patterns and strategies of private corporations and their impact on and relationship with the definition and organisation of public interests.



Deadline for submissions

Proposals for single or joint papers: Please send an abstract of not more than 500 words by email to Stephanie Blankenburg ([email protected]) and/or Dan Plesch ([email protected]) NO LATER THAN 15 APRIL 2007. Text, HTML, Word and PDF format attachments are acceptable. If you do not have access to the internet/e-mail, please send three copies of your abstract to:

Stephanie Blankenburg
Department of Economics
Faculty of Law & Social Sciences
Russell Square, Thornhaugh Street
London WC1H 0XG



University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is a college of the University of London and the only Higher Education institution in the UK specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. SOAS is a remarkable institution. Uniquely combining language scholarship,...

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