The focus area of International Business and Human Rights seeks to investigate Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) human rights conduct while they are pursuing their business in different countries.. The 2011 UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights and the 2015 UN Sustainable Developments Goals are two international initiatives aimed at strengthening the responsibility of MNEs to respect and promote human rights. However, evidence of human rights controversies involving MNEs is rising, and we still know very little about what makes these companies more liable to do harm or more respectful of human rights.

Research in this focus area seeks to investigate the following topics:

  • Measuring international business and human rights. Most research on MNEs’ human rights controversies relies on case studies. In this project, we work on the development of a large-scale longitudinal firm-level dataset that codifies events of human rights controversies for a sample of public companies originating in different advanced and emerging countries. Our aim is to quantify this phenomenon and to measure firm level organizational wrongdoing based on evidence of business-related human rights abuses world-wide.
  • MNEs’ human rights conduct across different institutional environments. Why and under what circumstances MNEs infringe human rights at home or in host countries? We seek to theorize and empirically investigate the conditions that lead companies to do harm in the conduct of their business as they internationalize. We are also interested in understanding differences in the human rights conduct that might exist among advanced and emerging countries MNEs as they expand globally.
  • Global value chains, sustainability and human rights. Do global buyers contribute to the improvement of the human rights conduct of small suppliers located in peripheral regions or countries? What is the role played by international institutions, including large buyers’ codes of conduct and CSR policies, in ensuring that local business practices are more respectful of human rights?
Elisa Giuliani

Elisa Giuliani


Flaviano Bianchini

Source International

Chiara Certomà

Centre for Sustainable Development - CDO, Ghent University
Davide Fiaschi

Davide Fiaschi

Full Professor

Chiara Macchi

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna

Federica Nieri

Post-Doctoral Researcher
Nicola Salvati

Nicola Salvati

Associate Professor
andrea vezzulli

Andrea Vezzulli

Insubria University

Luciano Ciravegna

University of London

Giuliani, E., Nieri, F. 2019. Fixing ‘bad’ capitalism: Why CSR and pro-good initiatives may not be enough, Critical Perspectives in International Business,

Fiaschi, D., Giuliani, E., Nieri, F., Salvati, N. 2019. How bad is your company? Measuring corporate wrongdoing beyond the magic of ESG metrics. Business Horizons,

Nieri, F., & Giuliani, E. 2018. International business and corporate wrongdoing: A review and research agenda. In C. Davide, N. Rajneesh, N. Quyen, I. Surdu, & W. Ames (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in International Business: Institutions, Strategy and Performance. Palgrave Macmillan.

Giuliani E., Ciravegna L., Vezzulli A., Kilian B. 2017. Decoupling standards from practice: The impact of in-house certifications on coffee farms’ environmental and social conduct. World Development, 96: 294–314.

Fiaschi, D., Giuliani, E., & Nieri, F. 2017. Overcoming the liability of origin by doing no harm. Assessing emerging country firms’ social irresponsibility as they go global. Journal of World Business, 52 (4): 546-563.

Giuliani, E., Santangelo, G., Wettstein, F. 2016. Human rights and international business research: A call for studying emerging market multinationals. Management and Organization Review, 12 (3), 631-637.

Giuliani, E., 2016. Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in Developing Countries’ Industrial Clusters. Journal of Business Ethics, 133 (1): 39-54.

Fiaschi, D., Giuliani, E., Nieri, F. 2015. BRIC companies seeking legitimacy through corporate social responsibility. UNCTAD Transnational Corporations, 22 (3): 5-42. (this paper was published in 2015, but referenced back to a 2013 (22/3) issue, for editorial purposes)

Giuliani E., Macchi, C. 2014. Multinational Corporations’ Economic and Human Rights Impacts on Developing Countries: A Review and Research Agenda. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 38 (2), 479-517.