What Is The Significance of Responsible Investment in a Culture and Context which is Irresponsible?
- By Professor Prabhu Guptara
- Published 02/7/2009
Professor Prabhu Guptara
Professor Prabhu Guptara is Executive Director, Organisational Development, Wolfsberg (a subsidiary of UBS - one of the largest banks in the world). He is also Freeman of the City of London and of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, and Chartered Fellow of the of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; he is also Fellow: of the Institute of Directors, of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts Commerce and Manufactures; and he continues to supervise PhD research at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) as well as to be Visiting Professor at various Universities and Business Schools around the world.
Earlier roles include: a Governor of the Polytechnic of Central London, Member of the Council of the British Institute of Management, of the International Federation of Training & Development Organisations (IFTDO), of the Association for Management Education and Development (UK), of the South East Regional Council of the Confederation of British Industry.
Judge, 1988 National Training Awards, 1980 Commonwealth Poetry Prize, 1990 & 1991 Deo Gloria Prize for Fiction; Chair of the Panel of Judges, Deo Gloria Prize 1992 & 1993.
Experience with an enormous range of organisations including: Akzo Nobel (Netherlands), the Associated Banks Institute (Germany), Barclays Bank (UK), British Petroleum (UK), the Council of Europe, Cultor (Finland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Groupe Bull (France), Federation of Finnish Engineers (Finland), the International Management Association of Japan, Kemira (Finland), Kraft Jakob Suchard (Switzerland), Leadership Academy (Finland), Nokia Telecommunications (Finland), Novo Nordisk (Denmark), Sedgwick International Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers (UK), Singapore Institute of Management, Sonatrach (Algeria), Sun Alliance (UK), UNCTAD, Valeo (France), and so on.
Organiser, chair and lecturer by invitation for numerous international conferences, he has contributed widely to radio and television in the UK and other countries (The Money Program, Any Questions) and has written for Financial Times (London, UK), The Guardian, The Times and other publications; articles, for example, in The Gower Handbook of Management, The Gower Handbook of Quality, and the International Encyclopedia of Business & Management (Routledge).
A CD-ROM has been issued of his lecture at the Professorenforum, University of Zurich, titled "Making the World Better - Why it does NOT happen...and what TO DO about it"
Further information available from firstname.lastname@example.org
His best-known research publication is "Top Executives in the Global 100 Companies and their IT-Competence" (ADVANCE: Management Training Ltd., UK, and Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre, Switzerland, 1998); and he is included in Debrett's People of Today and in Who's Who in the World. Professor Prabhu Guptara lives in Switzerland.
In response to correspondence about academic research in relation to "Socially Responsible Investment" (SRI), the following may be of wider interest:
To my mind, "Socially Responsible Investment" (SRI) at present is a bit like trying to build a dam on one stream of a delta of a river, when there is a flash flood coming - even if the dam holds on that delta stream, there will be a flood on all the other delta streams anyway.
So here is my list of questions for SRI-related research (in no particular order):
1. Can one responsibly invest in Hedge Funds, Derivatives, CDSs, CDOs?
2. How can responsible investment help to change the culture from IRresponsibility to Responsibility?
3. If the global context for trade is set by the WTO and that specifically excludes considerations regarding the environment and social justice (attempting to penalise those companies or countries which take such issues seriously), can you responsibly invest in trade? How can SRI operate in such a way as to tend towards the inclusion of such issues in the WTO regime?
4. If a government is bankrupt (as Iceland is in reality and many other countries are in principle), is it responsible to invest in those countries? - starting with the USA and UK!
5. If the current form of globalisation engenders unprecedented booms and busts (which by their very nature hurt the environment as well as the poor), how can SRI help?
6. Is it responsible to invest in any company whose turnover is in excess of 0.5% of the GDP of the country where it is registered?
7. Is it responsible to invest in any country which prints more money than is justified by its GDP? (The USA already had, in Autumn last year, about one trillion more dollars than it should!)
8. How can tax and other positive and negative incentives be used to discourage credit-based growth for individuals, families, companies and countries? Instead, how can investment-based growth be encouraged?
9. As accelerating stock market activity over recent years has speeded-up short-termism, should SRI research examine the case for the creation of two classes of stocks (Long Term and Short Term)? In theory, these could be created for all publicly-quoted companies, and all stock holdings existing at that point could be immediately considered to have been divided equally into these two classes. New stocks could then be purchased only in equal quantities of Short Term stocks and Long Term stocks. Short Term stocks could be traded at any time. Long Term stocks could be traded only after being held for, say, a year. This will slow down "day trading" and so slow down the rate of economic activity, but at the same time enable growth to be much more solidly and healthily based. The exact proportions of Short Term and Long Term stock issuable and purchasable can be varied by global agreement from time to time, say every 3 years.
10. Can there be Responsible Investment as long as there is the possibility of regulatory arbitrage around the globe? How can SRI encourage the creation of global frameworks, global minimum standards and global approaches to health, safety, pensions, minimum income, environmental protection, and tax (for the last, minima and maxima can be established depending on the level of achievement of a country). As a level playing field cannot be established around the world straightaway, there should at least be rational and agreed principles on which different levels of playing fields are recognised and established from time to time - with a plan for moving towards convergence as soon as possible.