The focus area on International Business and Human Rights seeks to investigate the human rights conduct of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) as they pursue 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 promoting 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 at 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. We aim at quantifying this phenomenon and at measuring 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 go global.
  • 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?
Elisa Giuliani

Elisa Giuliani


Flaviano Bianchini

Source International

Chiara Certomà

Centre for Sustainable Development - CDO, Ghent University
Davide Fiaschi

Davide Fiaschi


Chiara Macchi

Wageningen University
Federica Nieri

Federica Nieri

Researcher (RTD-B)
Nicola Salvati

Nicola Salvati

Associate Professor
andrea vezzulli

Andrea Vezzulli

Insubria University

Luciano Ciravegna

INCAE Business School

André Cieplinski

Post-doctoral researcher

Giuliani, E., Nieri, F., & Vezzulli, A. (2023). Big Profits, Big Harm? Exploring the Link Between Firm Financial Performance and Human Rights Misbehavior. Business & Society, 0(0).

Nieri, F. Ciravegna, L. (2021). Business and Human Rights: A Configurational View of the Antecedents of Human Rights Infringements by Emerging Market Firms. Journal of Business Ethics,

Giuliani E., Tuan A., Calvimontes J. (2020) Creating Shared Values meets human rights? A sense-making perspective in small-scale firms, Journal of Business Ethics,

Wettstein F., Giuliani E., Santangelo G., Stahl G. (2019) International Business and Human Rights: A research agenda, Journal of World Business, 54 (1): 54-65

Fiaschi D., Giuliani E., Nieri F., Salvati N. (2020) How bad is your company? Measuring corporate wrongdoing beyond the magic of ESG measures, Business Horizons,

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 (referenced back to 2013).

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.