2 October 2019 from 13:00 to 18:00

Expert Meeting Corporate Human Rights Violations and Reputational Damage

On October 2nd the IOS Research Platform Markets and Corporations in Open Societies, the Corporate Rule of Law Responsibility research team, and the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance of Utrecht University organise an expert meeting on the assumption that corporate human right violations result in reputational damage.

Increased transparency about the detrimental effects of corporate activities on human rights is often assumed to contribute to prevention of corporate human rights violations, as negative publicity following violations may generate reputational damage for corporations. This notion is central to many regulatory initiatives, NGO strategies and government policies.

This Expert meeting discusses the implications of a new study which challenges the assumption that corporate human rights violations result in reputational damage. This interdisciplinary study, carried out by Van Baar, Engelen, Van Erp and Enneking, on reputational damage and corporate human rights violations was based on data compiled by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). In our study, we have used an economic event study design to investigate stock market reactions to disclosure in the media of accusations of corporate human rights violations. They tested whether differences in media coverage, a clear focus of blame, concurrent NGO involvement, and/or social media coverage explain any variation in the stock market’s reaction upon the announcement of the corporate human rights violation. The study finds no stock market effects for allegations of involvement by corporations from the global north in human rights violations in the global south.

These results seem to suggest that ’the market’, in and off itself, does not reflect increased societal attention for corporate human rights abuses. Furthermore, the study indicates that regulatory mechanisms that rely on (the risk of) reputational damage as a driver for responsible business conduct in global value chains, may have serious shortcomings. Despite the fact that some findings may be related to the limitations of the method used in the study, they could have important implications for transparency-based policy regulatory approaches, as well as for NGO strategies. The aim of this Expert Meeting is to discuss the findings and their potential implications with academics and representatives from NGOs, the Dutch government and the BHRRC.

Programme

13.00 – 13.15  Walk-in, Coffee & Tea
13.15 – 13.40 Welcome and Introduction
Eddy Bauw, Professor of Liability Law and Administration of Justice, Utrecht School of Law
Judith van Erp, Professor of Public Institutions, Utrecht School of Governance

13.40 – 14.15 Reputational penalties for corporate human rights violations: study and implications
Peter-Jan Engelen, Associate Professor, Utrecht School of Economics;
Annika van Baar, Postdoc Corporate Rule of Law Responsibility, Utrecht Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance

14.15 – 14.30 Reflections I 

14.30 – 14.45 Reflections II

14.45  - 15.00 Reflections III

15.00 – 15.30  Coffee break

15.30 – 17.00  Round Table Discussion
Chair: Judith van Erp, Professor of Public Institutions, Utrecht School of Governance

17.00 – 17.05  Closing remarks
Judith van Erp, Professor of Public Institutions, Utrecht School of Governance

17.00 – 18.30  Drinks

Start date and time
2 October 2019 13:00
End date and time
2 October 2019 18:00
Entrance fee
Free of charge