Writing Workshop on

Business Groups and Corporate Responsibility for the Public Good in India 

Date: 13th November 2018 

Venue: OP Jindal Global University, New Delhi Campus


Submission Deadline for full paper: Closed

On the eve of its foundation day and annual conference – “INDIA AND SUSTAINABILITY STANDARDS: International Dialogues and Conference 2018”, Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), is organising a writing workshop on ‘Business Groups and Corporate Responsibility for the Public Good in India’ in association with the OP Jindal Global University; Schulich School of Business, Canada and, Aston Business School, UK. 

The purpose of the writeshop is to encourage and support scholarly research from India to build on and contribute to business and management research on Business Groups (BGs) and its interface with the notions of corporate (social) responsibility and sustainability. 

The Facilitators of the writeshop are:

  • Prof. Dirk Matten, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada
  • Prof. Peter Lund-Thomson, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
  • Dr. Bimal Arora, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  • Contact : Questions about paper submission, participation in the workshop and CRB’s conference and associated logistics should be emailed to Dr. Ria Sinha (ria.sinha@c4rb.org) and Mr. Rijit Sengupta (rijit.sengupta@c4rb.org), in the first instance.

Backdrop of the Writing Workshop

This writing workshop is organised to encourage and support scholarly research from India to build on and contribute to business and management research on Business Groups (BGs) and its interface with the notions of corporate (social) responsibility and sustainability. BG as a distinct organisational structure/form generate significant economic, cultural and social activity in many countries (Khanna & Yafeh, 2007) and have received increasing attention of management scholars in last two decades (Colpan, Hikino, & Lincoln, 2010; Cuervo-Cazurra, 2006; Holmes, Hoskisson, Kim, Wan, & Holcomb, 2018; Khanna & Yafeh, 2007; Manikandan & Ramachandran, 2015). Colpan & Hikino (2010, p.17) define Business Groups as “an economic coordination mechanism in which legally independent companies, bound together with formal and informal ties, utilize collaborative arrangements to enhance their collective economic welfare”. The empirical evidence suggest that there are a variety of forms, ownership and control mechanisms of BGs and they operate in different industries within a country and/or internationally. Management scholars consider BGs as an important actor in a country and a building blocks of the political economy, and suggest that BGs in emerging economies and developing countries are “quite different institutions compared to the forms of business which dominate much of the Anglo-Saxon discourse in business studies” (Ararat, Colpan, & Matten, 2018).

BGs and their relationship with corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability is a relatively understudied phenomenon. A special issue of Journal of Business Ethics published online in June 2018 on “Business Groups and Corporate Responsibility for the Public Good” highlight the distinctiveness and importance of BGs and their role in the provision of public goods (Ararat et al., 2018). Importantly, the three guest editors – Melsa Ararat, Asli Colpan and Dirk Matten – argue that BGs in emerging economies and developing countries are well placed to address different social needs and deficits. “Examining the engagement of BGs for the public good, especially in developing/emerging contexts, reveals a much broader and richer picture that includes, but goes significantly beyond the scope of standard CSR practices. BGs, often through charitable foundations as well as their operating firms, address institutional voids. They provide education and employment in areas where they are most needed, products, and services that effectively substitute and emulate what would be considered welfare state provisions in liberal, developed democracies” (Ararat et al., 2018). Ararat et al. (2018) reviewed the scant literature on BGs and CSR and advanced theoretical development on the topic through the special issue. Thus, this has opened up new opportunities for further empirical and conceptual research and theoretical advancement on BGs and CSR/sustainability.

While most emerging economies, as well as the economically advanced countries, provide rich context for research on different aspects of BGs (Khanna & Yafeh, 2007), India is amongst the major emerging economies with ubiquitous presence of BGs that have diversified business interests and companies operating within and beyond India. The broader management research on Indian BGs is fairly extensive and a significant theoretical development in this area has been contributed by scholars of Indian origin, who draw insights from BGs in India (Ghemawat & Khanna, 1998; Khanna, 2000; Khanna & Palepu, 1999, 2000; Khanna & Palepu, 2005; Khanna, Palepu, & Sinha, 2005; Khanna & Rivkin, 2001; Khanna & Yafeh, 2007; Manikandan & Ramachandran, 2015; Mukherjee, Makarius, & Stevens, 2018; Pattnaik, Lu, & Gaur, 2018). However, international literature on CSR in India in general, and that of BGs and CSR/sustainability in India in particular, is relatively scant.

The research theme of BGs and corporate responsibility as “public good”, developed by Ararat et al. (2018), is particularly useful, as it opens up many possibilities. Historically, BG has been a predominant form of business organising and structuring mechanism in India, and the growth of BGs in India has been steady. Further, BGs in India have traditionally engaged with social welfare issues and provision of public goods (Arora & Kaul, 2013; Arora & Puranik, 2004; Elankumaran, Seal, & Hashmi, 2005; Khanna, 2000; Shah, 2014; Sood & Arora, 2006; Tara & Kumar, 2016; Tata & Matten, 2016), long before the concept, practice and the scholarship on CSR became mainstream. As Cuvero-Cazurra (2018) suggested, “Some of the historical investments by business groups to address infrastructure deficiencies and externalities were not viewed as CSR because it was not until the 1950s that companies started considering CSR as a concept, and not until the 1970s that CSR became mainstream”. Moreover, the tradition of the public good provision by BGs in India, it can be argued, motivated the public executives and political leaders in the government and paved the way for the uniquely designed CSR Mandate, as Section 134/135 along with the prescriptive Schedule VII in the Indian Companies Act, 2013 (Gatti, Vishwanath, Seele, & Cottier, 2018). It is expected that India and the CSR practices of Indian BGs, as also the interest and interventions of government and public policies in CSR in India hold a great promise to generate newer and richer insights. Therefore, we consider India amongst the most suitable emerging economy and country context for furthering this research agenda on BGs and their relationship with CSR/sustainability.

With the Writing Workshop in November 2018, we intend to form an international Academic Network to support collegial and scholarly engagements to pursue the agenda of advancing research on BGs and Corporate Responsibility for the Public Good in India. The writing workshop will be a first step towards this pursuit. Some potential research questions and themes that can be explored, but not limited to these, are as follows:

  • How do BGs/BG affiliated firms contribute to public good in India?
  • Does the BG affiliation influence adoption of CSR/sustainability strategies in India? If so, how?
  • Does BG affiliation in India have any relationship with sustainable firm value?
  • Is family control a driver of CSR/sustainability in BGs/BG affiliated firms in India? Or is it actually an impediment?
  • Do CSR/sustainability strategies of BGs/BG affiliated firms differ from non-BGs firms and advance country MNEs operating in India?
  • How does affiliation to a family owned BG influence corporate governance, transparency and sustainability disclosures in India?
  • Do CSR/sustainability approaches and strategies vary across industry types and geographies with BG affiliation in India?
  • How stakeholder engagement varies with BG affiliation in India?
  • Do BGs/BG affiliated firms create value for stakeholders through their CSR/sustainability activities in India?
  • How do public policies influence CSR/sustainability strategies for BGs in India? Do these differ from non-BG firms and advance country MNEs operating in India?
  • Are there dark side of BGs CSR/sustainability strategies and activities in India?

Purpose of the Writing Workshop

The purposes of the writing workshop are manifold:

  • To seek out interest from scholars already researching on, and those interested in, BGs and on CSR/sustainability/public good in India – to form an international Academic Network on Business Groups and Corporate Responsibility for the Public Good in India;
  • To enable scholars interested in studying BGs and CSR/sustainability/public good to develop and present their paper ideas;
  • To support scholars to develop and prepare manuscript for publication in international peer-reviewed journals;
  • To provide an opportunity for scholars to participate in CRB’s 5th annual conference: ‘India and Sustainability Standards: International Dialogues and Conference’ to be held from 14-16 November 2018 in New Delhi.

Submission Guidelines
We invite short papers of not more than 3,000 words. Upon acceptance, selected scholars will be invited to attend the Writing Workshop, present their paper and seek feedback from the workshop facilitators.

Workshop Registration and Fee
Please send the extended abstract to Dr. Ria Sinha (ria.sinha@c4rb.org ) by 30th September 2018.  The workshop participation fee is INR 3,000 (for delegates from India) and USD 55 (for overseas delegates). The fee includes workshop participation and engagement with facilitators and feedback on extended abstracts, complimentary passes for CRB’s annual conference from 14-16 November 2018. Travel and accommodation costs for participation are to be borne by the participants themselves.

Short Profile of Facilitators
Prof. Dirk Matten holds the Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at the Schulich School of Business. He has a doctoral degree and the habilitation from Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf in his native Germany. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of London, the University of Nottingham and at Sabancı University in Istanbul. Until recently, Prof. Matten served as Schulich’s Associate Dean, Research. He is also the Co-Founder and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (COERB) at the Schulich School of Business. He has taught and done research at academic institutions in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Turkey, and the USA. He has published 24 books and edited volumes as well as more than 80 articles and book chapters, which have won numerous prestigious awards. In August 2018, his paper with Prof. Jeremy Moon “’Implicit’ and ‘Explicit’ CSR: A Conceptual Framework for a Comparative Understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility” (Academy of Management Review Vol. 33, No. 2) was awarded “Academy of Management Review Paper of the Decade”, and he was ranked #44 in the ‘Top 100 Corporate Social Responsibility Influence Leader’ (ranking next to CEOs and CSR leaders of Unilever, Google, Apple etc. He is the only academic scholar on the list). Earlier in 2013, Cambridge based think tank CSR International ranked Prof. Matten among the ‘Top 100 CSR Leaders’. Prof. Matten’s work has appeared in many international journals including Academy of Management Review, California Management Review, Human Relations, Journal of Management Studies, and Organization Studies. Prof. Matten was co-editor of the journal Business & Society (SAGE). He is frequently cited and interviewed for newspapers and TV and writes Op-Eds for papers such as Der Spiegel or The Globe and Mail. http://schulich.yorku.ca/faculty/dirk-matten/.

Prof. Peter Lund-Thomsen is Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing Countries at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) with specialization in sustainable sourcing, CSR/sustainability in local industrial clusters/regions, and impact assessment at the base of global value chains. Responsible for taking the lead in developing the CBS’ research in the area of CSR in developing countries and enhancing the CBS teaching and training portfolio in this area. Engages in partnerships with private sector, civil society, governmental, and multi-stakeholder initiatives. These partnerships bring the latest insights from academic research insights worldwide to help these organizations improve the quality of their work and also develop new knowledge and insights into their operations and practices.

Dr. Bimal Arora is a faculty member at Aston Business Schools in UK and Honorary Chairperson of Centre for Responsible Business (CRB). His teaching and research interests are in broader fields of Management, CSR and Sustainability. He has extensive policy and practice experience in ethical trade, voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) in diverse industry sectors and countries. He holds a Masters’ degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) and Ph.D. in Sustainability and CSR from the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR), Nottingham University Business School, UK. He is an honorary fellow of Global Development Institute (GDI) at the University of Manchester, Visiting Fellow with European Research Council funded Research Project Trafflab at Tel Aviv University, and Fellow at the Growing Inclusive Markets Initiative at UNDP. Dr. Arora has published in academic journals, policy papers and popular media. http://www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/research/departments/wop/department-members/dr-bimal-arora/.

Prof. Pawan Budhwar is the 50th Anniversary Professor of International HRM at Aston Business School. He is also the Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor International (India), the Joint Director of Aston India Centre for Applied Research at Aston University and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of British Journal of Management and an Associate Editor of Human Resource Management. Pawan’s research interests are in the field of strategic HRM, International HRM and emerging markets with a specific focus on India. He has published over 115 articles in leading journals such as JIBS, JWB, JOB, OBHDP, Human Relations, HRM, HRMJ, Organisation Studies and BJM and has also written and/or co-edited 18 books on various aspects of HRM in different national and regional set-ups. Pawan is the co-founder and first President of Indian Academy of Management, an affiliate of the Academy of Management (USA). He has served as an advisor to the Commonwealth Commission for six years and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, British Academy of Management, the Academy of Social Sciences and the Indian Academy of Management and a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He has won numerous awards for his research achievements and has regularly received research grants from a variety of funders. Pawan regularly delivers keynotes and professional development workshops at major conferences. He is also a Visiting Professor to many business schools globally and has delivered many international conferences and events. He has also led few initiatives at the Academy of Management, including its Caucus Chair in 2009.


  • Ararat, M., Colpan, A. M., & Matten, D. (2018). Business groups and corporate responsibility for the public good. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-19.
  • Arora, B., & Kaul, S. C. (2013). Antecedents to Humanistic Management Approach in India: The Role of Family Businesses. In World Humanism (pp. 165-177): Springer.
  • Arora, B., & Puranik, R. (2004). A review of corporate social responsibility in India. Development, 47(3), 93-100.
  • Colpan, A. M., Hikino, T., & Lincoln, J. R. (2010). The Oxford handbook of business groups: Oxford University Press.
  • Cuervo-Cazurra, A. (2006). Business groups and their types. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 23(4), 419-437.
  • Elankumaran, S., Seal, R., & Hashmi, A. (2005). Transcending transformation: Enlightening endeavours at tata steel. Journal of Business Ethics, 59(1), 109-119.
  • Gatti, L., Vishwanath, B., Seele, P., & Cottier, B. (2018). Are we moving beyond voluntary CSR? Exploring theoretical and managerial implications of mandatory CSR resulting from the New Indian Companies Act. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-12.
  • Ghemawat, P., & Khanna, T. (1998). The nature of diversified business groups: A research design and two case studies. The Journal of Industrial Economics, 46(1), 35-61.
  • Holmes, R. M., Hoskisson, R. E., Kim, H., Wan, W. P., & Holcomb, T. R. (2018). International strategy and business groups: A review and future research agenda. Journal of World Business, 53(2), 134-150.
  • Khanna, T. (2000). Business groups and social welfare in emerging markets: Existing evidence and unanswered questions. European Economic Review, 44(4-6), 748-761.
  • Khanna, T., & Palepu, K. (1999). Policy shocks, market intermediaries, and corporate strategy: The evolution of business groups in Chile and India. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 8(2), 271-310.
  • Khanna, T., & Palepu, K. (2000). Is group affiliation profitable in emerging markets? An analysis of diversified Indian business groups. The journal of finance, 55(2), 867-891.
  • Khanna, T., & Palepu, K. G. (2005). Spotting institutional voids in emerging markets. 
  • Khanna, T., Palepu, K. G., & Sinha, J. (2005). Strategies that fit emerging markets. Harvard business review, 83(6), 4-19.
  • Khanna, T., & Rivkin, J. W. (2001). Estimating the performance effects of business groups in emerging markets. Strategic management journal, 22(1), 45-74.
  • Khanna, T., & Yafeh, Y. (2007). Business groups in emerging markets: Paragons or parasites? Journal of Economic literature, 45(2), 331-372.
  • Manikandan, K., & Ramachandran, J. (2015). Beyond institutional voids: Business groups, incomplete markets, and organizational form. Strategic management journal, 36(4), 598-617.
  • Mukherjee, D., Makarius, E. E., & Stevens, C. E. (2018). Business group reputation and affiliates’ internationalization strategies. Journal of World Business, 53(2), 93-103.
  • Pattnaik, C., Lu, Q., & Gaur, A. S. (2018). Group Affiliation and Entry Barriers: The Dark Side Of Business Groups In Emerging Markets. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-16.
  • Shah, S. (2014). Corporate social responsibility: A way of life at the Tata Group. Journal of Human Values, 20(1), 59-74.
  • Sood, A., & Arora, B. (2006). The political economy of corporate responsibility in India: UNRISD.
  • Tara, S. N., & Kumar, N. S. (2016). Skill development in India:: In conversation with S. Ramadorai, Chairman, National Skill Development Agency & National Skill Development Corporation; former CEO, MD and Vice Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services. IIMB Management Review, 28(4), 235-243.
  • Tata, R. N., & Matten, D. (2016). Corporate Community Involvement in the 21st Century. In D. Barton, D. Horvath, & M. Kipping (Eds.), Re-imagining capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 68–83.