Responsible Business Think Tank Names Prof. David Vogel a Top Thought Leader

Trust Across America, an organization dedicated to improving and supporting responsible business practices by U.S. companies, has named Professor David Vogel one of 2013’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior.

The author of 15 books, Vogel has been at the forefront of research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) throughout his academic career. He became a faculty member in Berkeley’s business school in 1973. He holds the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics and serves as editor of California Management Review, the Haas School’s management research journal.

Other thought leaders on the Trust Across America list include Virgin CEO and founder Richard Branson, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, and faculty from Harvard, Georgetown, Kellogg, and Darden.

In his most recent book, The Politics of Precaution (Princeton University Press, April 2012), Vogel examined case studies and risk regulation in U.S. and European companies and found regulations–once more stringent in America–have become less comprehensive and innovative than those in Europe.

Vogel’s first book, Lobbying the Corporation: Citizen Challenges to Business Authority (1978), examined the impact of shareholder activism and consumer boycotts on redefining the social role and responsibilities of business during the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-apartheid movements.

Vogel says while sweatshop abuses have been replaced with environmental and sustainability issues, he is pleased that CSR has become a permanent part of management practice and has been institutionalized in corporations.

Vogel considers his 2005 book, The Market for Virtue: The Potential and Limitations of Corporate Social Responsibility, to be his most important scholarly contribution to the study of business-society relations. In this book, Vogel presents a balanced, well-researched assessment of CSR’s accomplishments and limitations in improving labor conditions, human rights, and environmental conditions in the global economy. The Market for Virtue won the best book award from the Social Issues Division of the Academy of Management in 2008.

"I have tried to strike a balance between seeing the potential of CSR and also its structural limitations in terms of the constraints that markets impose on companies to behave responsibly," says Vogel. "This is a controversial point. People who focus on CSR strongly believe in the business benefits of CSR, and that the more responsible firms are, the more profitable they will be. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that more responsible firms are more profitable. But what is encouraging is that neither are they less profitable."

Trust Across America provides information, standards, and data to encourage people to transform the way organizations do business. 2013 marks its third annual Top Thought Leaders list.

"The honorees are inspiring organizations to look more closely at their higher purpose…to create greater value for, and trust from, all of their stakeholders. They understand that trust is an asset that can leverage real business gains," says Barbara Kimmel, Trust Across America’s co-founder.

Read Trust Across America's 2013 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior