The topic Responsibility in Finance, Economics, Management and Information Technology identifies a clear responsibility for the academic profession vis-à-vis other areas of society in which it is embedded. Academia has an obligation to act responsibly in society, but also specifically toward students and taxpayers.
Concretely, the academic profession should be able to signal danger and can warn the public of possible future imbalances, and should contribute to a better understanding of the conditions necessary to create responsible behavior in organizational and economic contexts. Consequently, we also draw lessons from past and current crises. Responsibility in Finance, Economics, Management and Information Technology strives to promote the importance of these aspects, both in interdisciplinary research and teaching.
Responsibility in Finance, Economics, Management and Information Technology includes theoretical and empirical work, makes use of behavioral, experimental and neuroeconomic methods, and builds upon approaches and theories from a broad range of disciplines such as economics, psychology, sociology, and political sciences. The general objective is to undertake a critical analysis of current paradigms and models in the various fields.
Exemplary project: Derivative Products and Their Systemic Risks (M. Chesney, D. Coculescu, S. Gökay)
The most important function of derivative products should be to hedge against financial risks. The total nominal value of these products, however, is at least ten times the world GDP. In most cases, what seem to be hedging products are, in reality, bets - such as credit default swaps (CDS) - on defaults of companies or countries. These bets generate systemic risks which justify further issues of structured products. This research analyzes the wrong incentives these products might create in terms of investment decisions.
Exemplary project: The Role of (Dis)honesty in Managerial and Investor Decisions (C. Tanner, A. Wagner, R. Gibson, F. Eugster)
Combining expertise from finance, economics and psychology, we examine the influence of commitments to honesty and situational factors (e.g. financial incentives, depletion) on decision making, the focus being on decisions of managers and investors. Based on various experimental studies, we find that individuals endorsing honesty as a binding value (i.e., protected value) are more likely to avoid earnings management, even when it is personally costly. In addition, investors endorsing honesty as a protected value are more than other investors likely to make their investment decisions dependent on the perceived honesty/trustworthiness of a firm (manager). Consistent with this, we conducted complementary market analyses. They provide first evidence that the market assigns higher market values to firms whose CEOs are committed to telling the truth (avoiding earnings management). These studies suggest that managerial honesty does pay off.
Exemplary project: Does Market Competition Erode Social Responsibility? (B. Bartling, R. Weber)
This research project studies the stability of socially responsible behavior in markets. We develop a laboratory product market in which low-cost production creates negative externalities for third parties, but where increased production costs entirely mitigate the externalities. We use this design to study the conditions under which markets support “fair” or “moral” production. Our data reveal a robust and persistent preference for positive social impact: Socially responsible products represent a market share of approximately half of the goods traded and they typically trade at higher prices than goods that impose negative externalities. Socially responsible behavior in the market is generally robust to varying market characteristics, such as limited consumer information and increased seller competition. Market fairness is, however, slightly lower than fairness behavior measured in comparable individual decisions.
Exemplary project: Organizing for Corporate Social Responsibility (S. Schembera, A. Scherer)
In this research project we analyze the implementation and institutionalization of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies at Transnational Corporations (TNCs). Specifically, we focus on legitimation strategies of TNCs dealing with corruption. For a number of years, TNCs have formulated anti-corruption policies and implemented organizational structures and procedures in order to impede and detect corruptive practices. However, as recent scandals have shown, organizational corruption is still an endemic phenomenon. Corruptive practices faced by TNCs inside and outside their sphere of influence pose a threat to their legitimacy as responsible actors in today’s global governance structures. In this project, we will theoretically discuss the implications of corruption and corruption control strategies as well as empirically examine how transnational corporations deal with this issue. The aim is to gain more insights into relevant factors that drive the institutionalization of anti-corruption policies within organizational structures and processes and the factors that help explain the success or failure of implementation.
Exemplary project: Locating, Tracking and Tracing: Technology Assessment of Positioning Technologies (L. Hilty)
An increasing amount of technologies are being used that involve information on the location of objects or persons. In addition to the widely known geolocation by satellite via GPS, today at least 12 more technologies are being used that make it possible to determine the location of devices, and indirectly that of their users. This may happen in real time (tracking) or after a delay (tracing) depending on the technology. The possibility to determine the location of a person often emerges as a side-effect of other functions the person is using, such as having a phone call, accessing the Internet or taking a picture. By using a qualitative risk assessment approach developed in an earlier study for the Centre for Technology Assessment (TA-SWISS), the project team identified the need for political action in several areas (from surveillance and child protection to critical infrastructures) and formulated recommendations to legislative bodies and stakeholders to minimize the societal risks of these technologies.
Selected research projects
- Center for Responsibility in Finance (C. Tanner, M. Chesney)
- Agency versus Hold-up: On the Impact of Binding Say-on-Pay on Shareholder Value (A. Wagner, C. Wenk)
- Managerial Incentives to Take Asset Risk (M. Chesney, J. Stromberg, A. Wagner)
- The Role of Honesty in Business Decision Making (R. Gibson, C. Tanner, A. Wagner)
- Moralische Sensibilität bei Entscheidungen im Wirtschafts- und Finanzkontext: Entwicklung eines Messinstrumentes (C. Tanner, M. Christen)
- Foundations of Economic Preferences (E. Fehr)
- Neuroeconomics of Value-Based Decision Making (E. Fehr, P. Tobler, C. Ruff, L. Tremblay)
- Leadership across Economic Contexts (R. Weber)
- Fairness and Social Responsibility in Markets (B. Bartling)
- The Neural Basis of Economic and Moral Utility (P. Tobler)
- Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research
- Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioral Economics
- Competence Center for Human Rights at the University of Zurich
- An Empirical Assessment of the Legitimation-as-Deliberation Thesis (P. Haack, A. Scherer)
- Organizing for Corporate Social Responsibility (S. Schembera, A. Scherer)
- Responsible Leadership in Global Business: Conceptualization and Empirical Investigation (A. Scherer, C. Vögtlin)
- Locating, Tracking and Tracing: Technology Assessment of Positioning Technologies (L. Hilty)
- Analyzing Swiss Wood Markets: An Agent-Based Model of Sustainable Biomass Production (L. Hilty, S. Holm)
- Green Software: Assessing the Impact of Software on Energy Consumption and Hardware Obsolescence (L. Hilty)
- Cap and Game: Exploring Web-Based Gamification in Sustainable Consumption (L. Hilty, M. Huber)
Connections to courses
Our topic is of utmost importance to a complete education. It is valuable for all students and particularly for those interested in positions in firms or policy institutions where issues like compliance and socially responsible conduct are important. The following list provides examples of courses particularly related to our topic.
List of courses
More detailed information on each module can be found by copying the 8-digit code into the search field of the University’s course catalogue.
|BWL I: Grundlagen des Managements||AOEC0014|
|Introduction to Neuroeconomics and Social Neuroscience||BOEC0120|
|Business Ethics and Social Science||BOEC0308|
|Verantwortung in den Finanzmärkten - eine interdisziplinäre Perspektive||BOEC0321|
|Sustainability and Finance||starts in 2014|
|Globalisierung und Multinationale Unternehmen||BOEC0246|
|Theorien der Multinationalen Unternehmung||BOEC0008|
|Strategien der Multinationalen Unternehmung||BOEC0324|
|Einführung in die Ethik für Wirtschaftswissenschaftler/innen||BOEC0286|
|Unternehmensethik: Seminar zum Thema Moral Dilemmas||BOEC0025|
|Informatik, Ethik und Gesellschaft||BINF4214|
|Research Seminar in Experimental Economics||MOEC0010|
|History of Economic Thoughts||MOEC0379|
|Ethical Decision Making in Business & Finance – Psychological Perspectives||200s911|
|Responsibility in Financial Markets||starts in 2014|
|Corporate Governance in a Globalized Economy||MOEC0354|
|Seminar in Corporate Social Responsibility||MOEC0287|
|Informatics and Sustainable Development||MINF4519|
|Neuroeconomics Seminar (Foundations of Human Social Behavior)||DOEC0490|
|PhD Reading Course in Experimental Economics||DOEC0452|
|Current Issues in Management and Business Ethics||DOEC0445|
Faculty members involved
The following Faculty members research and/or teach in Responsibility in Finance, Economics, Management and Information Technology.