Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 209–216 | Cite as

Global Sustainability Governance and the UN Global Compact: A Rejoinder to Critics

  • Andreas Rasche
  • Sandra Waddock


This article takes the critique by Sethi and Schepers (J Bus Ethics, 2013, in this thematic symposium) as a starting point for discussing the United Nations (UNs) Global Compact. While acknowledging the relevance of some of their arguments, we emphasize that a number of their claims remain arguable and are partly misleading. We start by discussing the limits of their proposed framework to classify voluntary initiatives for corporate sustainability and responsibility. Next, we show how a greater appreciation of the historical and political context of the UN Global Compact puts several of their claims into perspective. Finally, we demonstrate that the alleged promise–performance gap rests on a selected and one-sided reading of the initiative. We close by pointing to some challenges that the initiative needs to address in the future.


United Nations Global Compact Business regulation Corporate sustainability and responsibility Public–private partnerships Soft law 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen Business SchoolCBS Centre for Corporate Social ResponsibilityFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.Boston CollegeCarroll School of ManagementChestnut HillUSA

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