Faculty & Research -Human right awareness and demand for corporate social responsibility

Human right awareness and demand for corporate social responsibility

Professor Puncheva-Michelotti and colleagues’ research served as the foundation for human rights education policy advocacy efforts aimed at making human rights education a priority in European and Asian government agendas on human rights and business.

Underpinning research

Professor Puncheva-Michelotti, along with her colleagues Professor Michelotti and Professor Gahan, conducted an investigation into the relationship between cross-country differences in public recognition of civil, political, and economic rights and stakeholder demand for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Their findings, which included data on human rights perceptions from Russia and Bulgaria, provided empirical support for the notion that a higher individual awareness of human rights in general – and political rights in particular – is associated with a higher propensity among stakeholders to take into account CSR practices in a range of dealings with business organisations. Further, the research evidence suggests that countries with formerly planned economies such as Russia and Bulgaria diverged in public recognition of human rights and stakeholder demand for CSR.

References to the research

2010 Puncheva-Michelotti, P., Michelotti, M., Gahan, P. (2010) The Relationship between individuals’ recognition of Human Rights and responses to socially responsible companies: Evidence from Russia and Bulgaria, Journal of Business Ethics, 93 (4), pp. 583-605.

Details of the impact

Professor Puncheva-Michelotti’s research, which included human rights education policy recommendations caught the attention of policymakers on Human Rights and Business. Thanks to her research on human rights and business, she had the privilege to be invited and sponsored to contribute to the discussions on multi-stakeholder cooperation during the 14th ASEM meeting on Human Rights and Business, which took place in Vietnam, 18-20 November 2014. This event, hosting 125 participants from inter-governmental bodies, civil society, and business sectors, was organised by the Vietnamese government and generously supported by the French Foreign Ministry, the Swedish government, and the European Union.

Various participants contributed to these discussions including ambassadors from Asia-Pacific and European countries, prominent business leaders (such as Pierre Mazeau, the CSR director of Electricité de France), representatives from renowned NGOs (such as Oxfam), and leaders of the United Nations Global Compact initiative. These collaborative dialogues led to the development of a comprehensive policy document and side agreement of understanding on Human Rights and Business between European and Asian countries.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration

During the event, Professor Puncheva-Michelotti actively engaged in the working group on multi-stakeholder collaboration advocating the role of state and civil society organisations for human rights education as means to create greater human right awareness and demand for business responsibility for human rights. This view was integrated in the anonymised position statements of the working group highlighting the role of multi-stakeholder initiatives in “providing teaching on human rights responsibilities for business” (p. 31, ASEF 2015) and the general statement on the role of human rights education in the published proceedings of the 14th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights – “Human Rights & Businesses”:

“It was agreed amongst participants that the State’s duty to sensitise and build awareness of human rights required both a top-down effort, with steps at the inter-governmental level, and bottom-up measures to promote education, knowledge and better business behaviour.” (p. 23, ASEF 2015)

Her engagement in the discussions and research evidence may have influenced the position statement expressed by Frédéric TIBERGHIEN, (Technical Coordinator & Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France, & State Counsellor – Conseil d’Etat) at the closing plenary of the seminar: “Education plays an important role in human rights protection, in HR public awareness and in HR violations prevention.” (p. 108, ASEF, 2015)

Sources to corroborate the impact

Pierre Mazeau, the CSR director of Electricité de France;

Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). (2015). Human Rights and Businesses, Seminar Proceedings of the 14th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights and Businesses. Xpress Print (Pte) Ltd. ISBN: 978-981-09-6317-0. https://asef.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/asef-14th-asem-seminar-human-rights-publication.pdf

Research Centre:
Rethinking Tomorrow’s Organisation

Dr Petya Puncheva-Michelotti; Marco Michelotti; Peter Gahan
Period when the impact occurred: 2014-2015