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Bohnen Presents CPR in 10 Theses at the Cologne Sustainability Conference


At the Cologne Business School's 8th International Conference on Sustainability & Responsibility, Dr. Johannes Bohnen presented in ten theses the concept of Corporate Political Responsibility (CPR). He interpreted the title of the event - "Responsible Leadership in Times of Transformation" - in a consistently political way and showed why companies should see the current illiberal tendencies as a threat to their business. Standing up for democracy, free markets or the unity of the EU is therefore a business case. CSR misses out on the connection between political goods and economic success - CPR is the more promising approach. In the ten theses Bohnen developed, it can be stated as follows:

  1. There is no strict separation between business and politics - corporate activities are always socio-politically and institutionally embedded.

  2. Companies are already political actors - as taxpayers, employers, innovators, or lobbyists, they influence the community.

  3. Companies are challenged by political threats and a lack of state governance capacity - from the AfD to regulatory gaps in the age of globalization and digitalization.

  4. People's expectations of companies are rising - customers, employees, and the public demand a mindset beyond profit.

  5. Politics is more than party politics - in democracies, everyone can contribute to protecting the public sphere and ensuring the functioning of public goods.

  6. Companies should not only invest in buildings, machines, and employees - but also in the political preconditions of their long-term success.

  7. Companies can become political brands with concrete methods - by systematically identifying and using their political resources.

  8. There are at least four fields of action for companies - from responsible lobbying to socio-political dialogues and political participation projects to strengthening collective goods.

  9. The UN Sustainable Development Goals can guide CPR - when recognizing their political facet, as primarily expressed in Goal 16 "Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions."

  10. The primacy of the political must be preserved - CPR can only claim legitimacy if the state retains precedence over corporations.

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