Christopher Wickert, Université de Lausanne

    About Christopher

    Christopher Wickert is a Ph.D. candidate in business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at University of Lausanne since Fall 2008. He holds a degree as Diplom-Kaufmann from WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany, having also studied in Chile and Turkey. He has gained CSR-experience while working for a NGO in Ecuador, the German Technical Development Cooperation (GTZ) in Honduras and several years for the United Nations Global Compact Office. Christopher is a member of the Think Tank 30 in the German Society of the Club of Rome. 

    PhD project

    Conceptualizing the Role of SMEs as Private Actors in Global Governance
    In this study, I theoretically discuss the emerging role of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as private actors in global governance – referring to the rule-making and rule-implementation on a global scale. Drawing on the concepts of political responsibility and social connection, I argue that SMEs are, on the one hand, as much as large multinational corporations (MNCs) exposed to governance gaps of social and environmental regulation when operating on the global marketplace; on the other hand they do not follow the same approach as MNCs, due to different organizational characteristics, limited financial and human resources and motivational factors. Notwithstanding, numerous examples exist where SMEs are already accepting an active role in global governance, e.g. by following the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact and engaging in (multi)stakeholder dialogue. I develop an operational framework which illustrates how SMEs can approach political responsibility in a systematic way and, as a benchmark, allows assessing its organizational embeddedness among SMEs.
    Towards Critical Performativity in Corporate Sustainability Research
    Corporations have acknowledged the importance of being perceived as socially responsible and invested heavily in communicating the sustainability of their activities. There is however frequently a misalignment between image and actions where businesses do not live up to their self-proclaimed standards and societal expectations. This calls for critical research on the substance of corporate sustainability (CS) to uncover such misalignments.
    Scholars associated with the Critical Management Studies (CMS) movement have addressed such issues to disclose the ‘dark side’ of corporate behaviour ‘hiding behind the mask of CS’. Yet, this stream of research has mainly focused on pointing out problems, not on suggesting solutions.

    We conceptualize ‘critical performativity’ to advance critical research on CS by developing a research framework for a CS agenda of problem identification, solution finding and devision of guidelines. It builds on stances of affirmation and care to identify problems of injustice, pragmatism and potentialities when drafting solutions, and a normative stance when devising guidelines. This research framework seeks to overcome shortcomings of current CS practice - being overly superficial and instrumentally abused - and a CMS debate, which is often disconnected from the constraints of business life. 




    Prof. Dr. Guido Palazzo


    Publications and conferences


    Escudero, M., Wickert, C., et al. (2007). UN Global Compact Operational Guide for Medium-Scale Enterprises. New York: United Nations Global Compact Office.
    Wickert, C. (2009). ‚Private Akteure in Globaler Governance – die Rolle der KMU’. Forum Wirtschaftsethik, Issue 04/2009, p. 53-55.
    Schoeneborn, D. & Wickert, C. (2010). ‚Zwischen Kontrolle und Vertrauen’. Denaris Magazin, Issue 02/2010, p. 8-11
     Wickert, C. (2010). ‚Was hat mein Sparbuch eigentlich mit Kinderarbeit zu tun?’, (Internetportal for sustainable investment). published 21 June 2010, available at
    Wickert, C. (2010). ‚Ethik am Tropf ihres Wertschöpfungs-potenzials?...kritische Gedanken zum Business Case von CSR’. Glocalist Review, Issue 280, p. 24-25.
    Schoeneborn, D., Wickert, C. & Haack, P. (2010). ‚Fallstudie Multinationale Unternehmen: Der „Equator Principles“ Standard in der Finanzindustrie’. In: Raupp, J., Jarolimek, S. & Schultz, F. (Eds.).
    Handbuch Corporate Social Responsibility Kommunikationswissenschaftliche Grundlagen und methodische Zugänge. Mit Lexikon. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.
    Conference presentations
    DNWE (Deutsches Netzwerk Wirtschaftsethik) Annual Conference doctoral workshop, April 2009, Bonn. Presentation of Research ‚SMEs as private actors in global governance’.
     EBEN (European Business Ethics Network) Research Conference, June 2009, Beer-Sheva, Israel. Presentation of first research results: ‘The Role of SMEs in Global Governance – a Theoretical Conceptualization’.
    EGOS (European Group for Organizational Studies) Conference, July 2009, Barcelona, Spain. Paper presentation: ‘Standardization as Negotiation: The Case of the Equator Principles’ (awarded with “Best Student Paper Award”), together with Patrick Haack and Dennis Schoeneborn.
    Colloquium on Corporate Political Activity, May 2010, New York, USA. Paper presentation: ‘Conceptualising the Role of SMEs as Private Actors in Global Governance’.
    Society for Business Ethics Annual Conference, August 2010, Montreal, Canada. Paper presentation: ‘Conceptualising the Role of SMEs as Private Actors in Global Governance’.
    Corporate Responsibility Research Conference, September 2010, Marseille, France. Paper presentation: ‘Towards Critical Performativity in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’, together with Stephan Schaefer, Lund University, Sweden.
     4th International Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility, September 2010, Berlin, Germany. Organisation of the Panel “The role of private business in global governance: Do SMEs differ from large MNCs?”, Convenors: Prof. Dr. Andreas Scherer, Christopher Wickert. Presentation of case study research results
     Journal of Management Studies Research Conference, September 2010, Loughborough, UK. Paper presentation: ‘Conceptualising the Role of SMEs as Private Actors in Global Governance’.
    Journal of Management Studies Research Conference, September 2010, Loughborough, UK. Paper presentation: ‘Towards critical performativity in corporate social responsibility research - A critically-reflective approach to practice’, together with Stephan Schaefer, Lund University, Sweden.


    christopher.wickert [at] doctoral-academy [dot] net