Bunhill: Ethics on agenda in academia

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The Independent Online
TO JAUNDICED eyes, it might look like a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. But there is no doubt that business ethics and corporate responsibility are notions whose time has come.

With business schools around the country apparently rushing to set up professorships to look into the area, Manchester Business School is claiming to be the first to make an appointment. The man chosen for the post, to be sponsored by the Co-operative Bank for the next five years, is Brian Harvey, formerly reader in management studies at the University of Nottingham. And as you might expect from an academic, he does not claim to have any answers.

Rather, he is keen to carry out research into the area. And he is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task set by his sponsor, namely to confirm the bank's belief that there is a link between corporate responsibility and corporate success. 'That might take a lifetime,' he says.

Although clearly enthusiastic about the appointment, he does not seem sufficiently excited to move home. 'I live near Chesterfield on the edge of the Peak District. It's only an hour and a quarter's drive to Manchester.'

Perhaps he got the habit of downplaying long distances from his time as an economics teacher on secondment from Nottingham University to newly independent Kenya. At any rate, he credits this 'formative experience' with teaching him a lot about the edges of the market system - 'where the market fails to perform in textbook fashion'. Sounds perfect training for his new role. Corporate baddies beware.

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