The Initiative provides support for scholarly research on business and human rights by UConn faculty. Current projects include:
A Comparative Analysis of Stakeholder Dialogue Regimes
PI: Shareen Hertel
Stakeholder dialogues are integral to conflict negotiation in business settings worldwide. They are a central tool in the business and human rights field, legitimated and professionalized in the early 2000s during the mandate of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Business & Human Rights, John G. Ruggie. This project analyzes the scope of stakeholder dialogues taking place globally (drawing on the 6,000 company dataset of the New York and London-based Business & HR Resource Centre); explores the historical evolution of varying forms of public dialogue around business harm and benefits from the 1970s to present; develops a two-company in-depth case study of successful and failed stakeholder dialogues in a single industry and geographic region; and explores concrete mechanisms for enhancing the practice and content of stakeholder consultation with a view toward empowering the most vulnerable among workers and community members.
Mapping the Human Rights Mindset of Corporations
PI: Caroline Kaeb
This project aims to empirically map the human rights mindset of corporations in order to better understand how corporations treat human rights concerns at the firm level whether as a matter of law, crisis management, morality, or business development. For this purpose, the project will conduct an empirical qualitative analysis through interviews of corporate officers and relevant internal and external constituents in order to identify where human rights issues are addressed within the institutional structure of the corporation and what business function these issues are ascribed to within the firm. The findings can inform an empirically grounded understanding of the contemporary human rights mindset of corporations resulting in important strategic and normative implications. This project fills a gap in the literature, which has provided normative treatment of the issue of human rights implementation into corporate governance structures, but has not yet empirically substantiated these propositions in the form of in-depth interviews with key internal and external constituencies that significantly shape the current human rights mindset of corporations.
Measuring the Human Rights Impact of Social Bonds
PI: Stephen Park
Social bonds, also known as “theme” bonds, are fixed-income debt instruments sold to investors that are used to finance projects with a defined social benefit (such as education, employment, housing, or healthcare). The social benefit incorporated into the financial instrument can be defined by reference to specific economic and social rights. A key challenge is how to measure the performance of a social bond in accordance with its underlying human rights objectives. This project examines the use of metrics and indicators, reporting standards, and monitoring frameworks in the context of the global social bond market. The project develops a typology that shows the relationships between the objectives of market participants (e.g., issuers and investors), the interests of various stakeholder groups, and the fulfillment of the human rights of intended beneficiaries for the purpose of evaluating potential regulatory approaches to social bonds.