11,601 research outputs found

    Corporate Social Responsibility: the institutionalization of ESG

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    Understanding the impact of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on firm performance as it relates to industries reliant on technological innovation is a complex and perpetually evolving challenge. To thoroughly investigate this topic, this dissertation will adopt an economics-based structure to address three primary hypotheses. This structure allows for each hypothesis to essentially be a standalone empirical paper, unified by an overall analysis of the nature of impact that ESG has on firm performance. The first hypothesis explores the evolution of CSR to the modern quantified iteration of ESG has led to the institutionalization and standardization of the CSR concept. The second hypothesis fills gaps in existing literature testing the relationship between firm performance and ESG by finding that the relationship is significantly positive in long-term, strategic metrics (ROA and ROIC) and that there is no correlation in short-term metrics (ROE and ROS). Finally, the third hypothesis states that if a firm has a long-term strategic ESG plan, as proxied by the publication of CSR reports, then it is more resilience to damage from controversies. This is supported by the finding that pro-ESG firms consistently fared better than their counterparts in both financial and ESG performance, even in the event of a controversy. However, firms with consistent reporting are also held to a higher standard than their nonreporting peers, suggesting a higher risk and higher reward dynamic. These findings support the theory of good management, in that long-term strategic planning is both immediately economically beneficial and serves as a means of risk management and social impact mitigation. Overall, this contributes to the literature by fillings gaps in the nature of impact that ESG has on firm performance, particularly from a management perspective

    A Decision Support System for Economic Viability and Environmental Impact Assessment of Vertical Farms

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    Vertical farming (VF) is the practice of growing crops or animals using the vertical dimension via multi-tier racks or vertically inclined surfaces. In this thesis, I focus on the emerging industry of plant-specific VF. Vertical plant farming (VPF) is a promising and relatively novel practice that can be conducted in buildings with environmental control and artificial lighting. However, the nascent sector has experienced challenges in economic viability, standardisation, and environmental sustainability. Practitioners and academics call for a comprehensive financial analysis of VPF, but efforts are stifled by a lack of valid and available data. A review of economic estimation and horticultural software identifies a need for a decision support system (DSS) that facilitates risk-empowered business planning for vertical farmers. This thesis proposes an open-source DSS framework to evaluate business sustainability through financial risk and environmental impact assessments. Data from the literature, alongside lessons learned from industry practitioners, would be centralised in the proposed DSS using imprecise data techniques. These techniques have been applied in engineering but are seldom used in financial forecasting. This could benefit complex sectors which only have scarce data to predict business viability. To begin the execution of the DSS framework, VPF practitioners were interviewed using a mixed-methods approach. Learnings from over 19 shuttered and operational VPF projects provide insights into the barriers inhibiting scalability and identifying risks to form a risk taxonomy. Labour was the most commonly reported top challenge. Therefore, research was conducted to explore lean principles to improve productivity. A probabilistic model representing a spectrum of variables and their associated uncertainty was built according to the DSS framework to evaluate the financial risk for VF projects. This enabled flexible computation without precise production or financial data to improve economic estimation accuracy. The model assessed two VPF cases (one in the UK and another in Japan), demonstrating the first risk and uncertainty quantification of VPF business models in the literature. The results highlighted measures to improve economic viability and the viability of the UK and Japan case. The environmental impact assessment model was developed, allowing VPF operators to evaluate their carbon footprint compared to traditional agriculture using life-cycle assessment. I explore strategies for net-zero carbon production through sensitivity analysis. Renewable energies, especially solar, geothermal, and tidal power, show promise for reducing the carbon emissions of indoor VPF. Results show that renewably-powered VPF can reduce carbon emissions compared to field-based agriculture when considering the land-use change. The drivers for DSS adoption have been researched, showing a pathway of compliance and design thinking to overcome the ‘problem of implementation’ and enable commercialisation. Further work is suggested to standardise VF equipment, collect benchmarking data, and characterise risks. This work will reduce risk and uncertainty and accelerate the sector’s emergence

    Consent and the Construction of the Volunteer: Institutional Settings of Experimental Research on Human Beings in Britain during the Cold War

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    This study challenges the primacy of consent in the history of human experimentation and argues that privileging the cultural frameworks adds nuance to our understanding of the construction of the volunteer in the period 1945 to 1970. Historians and bio-ethicists have argued that medical ethics codes have marked out the parameters of using people as subjects in medical scientific research and that the consent of the subjects was fundamental to their status as volunteers. However, the temporality of the creation of medical ethics codes means that they need to be understood within their historical context. That medical ethics codes arose from a specific historical context rather than a concerted and conscious determination to safeguard the well-being of subjects needs to be acknowledged. The British context of human experimentation is under-researched and there has been even less focus on the cultural frameworks within which experiments took place. This study demonstrates, through a close analysis of the Medical Research Council's Common Cold Research Unit (CCRU) and the government's military research facility, the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment, Porton Down (Porton), that the `volunteer' in human experiments was a subjective entity whose identity was specific to the institution which recruited and made use of the subject. By examining representations of volunteers in the British press, the rhetoric of the government's collectivist agenda becomes evident and this fed into the institutional construction of the volunteer at the CCRU. In contrast, discussions between Porton scientists, staff members, and government officials demonstrate that the use of military personnel in secret chemical warfare experiments was far more complex. Conflicting interests of the military, the government and the scientific imperative affected how the military volunteer was perceived

    Towards a sociology of conspiracy theories: An investigation into conspiratorial thinking on Dönmes

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    This thesis investigates the social and political significance of conspiracy theories, which has been an academically neglected topic despite its historical relevance. The academic literature focuses on the methodology, social significance and political impacts of these theories in a secluded manner and lacks empirical analyses. In response, this research provides a comprehensive theoretical framework for conspiracy theories by considering their methodology, political impacts and social significance in the light of empirical data. Theoretically, the thesis uses Adorno's semi-erudition theory along with Girardian approach. It proposes that conspiracy theories are methodologically semi-erudite narratives, i.e. they are biased in favour of a belief and use reason only to prove it. It suggests that conspiracy theories appear in times of power vacuum and provide semi-erudite cognitive maps that relieve alienation and ontological insecurities of people and groups. In so doing, they enforce social control over their audience due to their essentialist, closed-to-interpretation narratives. In order to verify the theory, the study analyses empirically the social and political significance of conspiracy theories about the Dönme community in Turkey. The analysis comprises interviews with conspiracy theorists, conspiracy theory readers and political parties, alongside a frame analysis of the popular conspiracy theory books on Dönmes. These confirm the theoretical framework by showing that the conspiracy theories are fed by the ontological insecurities of Turkish society. Hence, conspiracy theorists, most readers and some political parties respond to their own ontological insecurities and political frustrations through scapegoating Dönmes. Consequently, this work shows that conspiracy theories are important symptoms of society, which, while relieving ontological insecurities, do not provide politically prolific narratives

    Shedding Light on the Blockchain Disintermediation Mystery: A Review and Future Research Agenda

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    Blockchain technology has been in the interest of IS researchers and practitioners for several years. One key reason for this curiosity is the possibility to carry out peer-to-peer transactions without a trusted intermediary. Building upon this capability, many researchers posited that blockchain technology would remove traditional intermediaries from their market position. This process has been described in electronic markets literature as Disintermediation. However, other researchers proposed a more distinct perspective by proposing that blockchain technology will not facilitate Disintermediation in all settings. Thus, no unified view on this topic exists yet. Our literature review identifies three dominating concepts in blockchain literature: Extensive Disintermediation, Limited Disintermediation, and Re-Intermediation. We further highlight in our findings that most of the identified literature does not consider all market functions as described in the electronic markets literature. Hence, we provide a structured overview of the field and possibilities for future research

    From wallet to mobile: exploring how mobile payments create customer value in the service experience

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    This study explores how mobile proximity payments (MPP) (e.g., Apple Pay) create customer value in the service experience compared to traditional payment methods (e.g. cash and card). The main objectives were firstly to understand how customer value manifests as an outcome in the MPP service experience, and secondly to understand how the customer activities in the process of using MPP create customer value. To achieve these objectives a conceptual framework is built upon the Grönroos-Voima Value Model (Grönroos and Voima, 2013), and uses the Theory of Consumption Value (Sheth et al., 1991) to determine the customer value constructs for MPP, which is complimented with Script theory (Abelson, 1981) to determine the value creating activities the consumer does in the process of paying with MPP. The study uses a sequential exploratory mixed methods design, wherein the first qualitative stage uses two methods, self-observations (n=200) and semi-structured interviews (n=18). The subsequent second quantitative stage uses an online survey (n=441) and Structural Equation Modelling analysis to further examine the relationships and effect between the value creating activities and customer value constructs identified in stage one. The academic contributions include the development of a model of mobile payment services value creation in the service experience, introducing the concept of in-use barriers which occur after adoption and constrains the consumers existing use of MPP, and revealing the importance of the mobile in-hand momentary condition as an antecedent state. Additionally, the customer value perspective of this thesis demonstrates an alternative to the dominant Information Technology approaches to researching mobile payments and broadens the view of technology from purely an object a user interacts with to an object that is immersed in consumers’ daily life

    Political Islam and grassroots activism in Turkey : a study of the pro-Islamist Virtue Party's grassroots activists and their affects on the electoral outcomes

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    This thesis presents an analysis of the spectacular rise of political Islam in Turkey. It has two aims: first to understand the underlying causes of the rise of the Welfare Party which -later became the Virtue Party- throughout the 1990s, and second to analyse how grassroots activism influenced this process. The thesis reviews the previous literature on the Islamic fundamentalist movements, political parties, political party systems and concentrates on the local party organisations and their effects on the party's electoral performance. It questions the categorisation of Islamic fundamentalism as an appropriate label for this movement. An exploration of such movements is particularly important in light of the event of 11`x' September. After exploring existing theoretical and case studies into political Islam and party activism, I present my qualitative case study. I have used ethnographic methodology and done participatory observations among grassroots activists in Ankara's two sub-districts covering 105 neighbourhoods. I examined the Turkish party system and the reasons for its collapse. It was observed that as a result of party fragmentation, electoral volatility and organisational decline and decline in the party identification among the citizens the Turkish party system has declined. However, the WP/VP profited from this trend enormously and emerged as the main beneficiary of this process. Empirical data is analysed in four chapters, dealing with the different aspects of the Virtue Party's local organisations and grassroots activists. They deal with change and continuity in the party, the patterns of participation, the routes and motives for becoming a party activist, the profile of party activists and the local party organisations. I explore what they do and how they do it. The analysis reveals that the categorisation of Islamic fundamentalism is misplaced and the rise of political Islam in Turkey cannot be explained as religious revivalism or the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. It is a political force that drives its strength from the urban poor which has been harshly affected by the IMF directed neoliberal economy policies. In conclusion, it is shown that the WP/VP's electoral chances were significantly improved by its very efficient and effective party organisations and highly committed grassroots activists
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