• “We need to think deeply about what economic development is and who it is for; and, engage the larger society in that conversation.”

    Dr. David T. Barnard
    President and Vice-Chancellor
    University of Manitoba

  • “Rising income inequality undercuts the trust that is essential for the market system to work.”

    Art DeFehr
    President and CEO, Palliser Furniture.

  • “Investing in people in the new economy is now not just morally sound, but economically rational”

    Alan Freeman
    Cultural Economist

  • “Organizations and societies in which the top few appropriate most of the value are like inverted pyramids – inherently unstable”

    Dr. Hari Bapuji
    Associate Professor, University of Manitoba

  • “The present crisis has overturned many accepted truths: that poverty matters but inequality doesn't is one of the more important.”

    Radhika Desai
    Professor, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba

  • “The income gap between rich and poor, between skilled and unskilled workers, has been rising in both developed and less developed countries for a number of years. The trend is disturbing and we must find a way to turn this trend around.”

    Michael Benarroch
    Dean, I.H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba

  • “High economic inequality in the society creates pressures on organizations to reduce, and explain, the levels of income inequality within their boundaries. .”

    Jerry Davis
    Wilbur K. Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management at the Ross School of Business and Professor of Sociology, The University of Michigan

  • “Business might or might not be an appropriate actor to lead, but it is a necessary actor in, the effort to reduce economic inequality.”

    Dr. Tom Lawrence
    W.J. VanDusen Professor of Management, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University

  • “We need to examine whether more equal societies potentiate certain human outcomes like development and innovation.”

    Dr. Michael Harris Bond
    Emeritus Professor of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Academic Resources

A number of academics interested in understanding the relationship between economic inequality and business ask BEIF for academic resources. Beginning research on this topic can be quite challenging as substantial body of knowledge exists and can be used to build research by business scholars. This document contains a list of seven articles that can help those interested get started.

Professional Development Workshop at Academy of Management

A professional development workshop (Economic Inequality, Business and Capitalism) was organized by Hari Bapuji and Lukas Neville on August 10 at the upcoming Academy of Management (AOM) Conference in Orlando, Florida. It attracted interested participants from multiple areas of business research. A detailed report on the workshop is here.

Leading Researchers share their thoughts with BEIF

BEIF caught up with a number of leading researchers at the 3rd International Conference on Inequality, Institutions and Organizations at Simon Fraser University. In particular, BEIF asked three scholars to share their thoughts on how economic inequality affects organizations and what organizations can do about it. The responses given by professors Paul Hirsch, Kamal Munir, and John Amis are here.

Professional Development Workshop at Academy of Management

A professional development workshop (Economic Inequality, Business and Capitalism) will be organized by Hari Bapuji and Lukas Neville on August 10 at the upcoming Academy of Management (AOM) Conference in Orlando, Florida. This workshop is sponsored by a number of prominent divisions of AOM: Critical Management Studies, Business Policy and Strategy, Organization and Management Theory, International Management, and Social Issues in Management. Building on previous year's workshop, this workshop will feature research briefs that shed light on inequality and business, by Victor Cui, Bruno Dyck, Nathan Greidanus and Lukas Neville. This will be followed by roundtable discussions. Please see this poster for further details.

3rd International Conference on Inequality, Institutions and Organizations

Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University hosted the 3rd International Conference on Inequality, Institutions and Organizations from June 6 to June 8. Organized by professors Thom Lawrence, John Amis and Kamal Munit, the conference was attended by about 50 scholars from around the world. It was kicked off by an entertaining and thought provoking address by Prof. Jerry Davis. A report on the conference is here and some photographs are here.

Munk Debate on Taxing the Rich

On May 30, 2013, Munk Debates hosted four leading thinkers to debate the resolution: Be it resolved tax the rich (more). Going into the debate, 58 percent of the audience were in favour of the motion. This number increased to 70 percent following the debate that saw Paul Krugman and George Papandreou speak in favour of the motion, while newt Gingrich and Arthur Laffer spoke against. For more details, please visit http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/taxing-the-rich

Income Inequality Continues to Rise and Hurt the Poor More

In a recent report, the OECD revealed that income inequality increased more during the latest three years (i.e., 2008-10, for which the data is available) than in the previous 12 years. The income gap between rich and poor is “largest in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Israel, and lowest in Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark.” In fact, the number of people living in poverty rose during the financial crisis in most countries. Particularly, child poverty has risen in 16 OECD countries since 2007, with high increases in Turkey, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia and Hungary. Continuing its focus on inequality, the OECD held a forum on “Jobs, equality and trust” in Paris. See www.oecd.org/forum/ forum for more details.

Bruno Dyck launches new book, Management and the Gospel

Dr. Bruno Dyck, professor of business administration at the I.H. Asper School of Business launched Management and the Gospel: Luke’s Radical Message for the First and Twenty-First Centuries. The book investigates what management theory and practice looked like in the first century, and then uses this as a lens to examine what the Gospel of Luke says about the problems of today and the role of management in addressing them. One of these concerns the issue of economic inequality and will be featured in subsequent BEIF articles. The book can be purchased here on Amazon.

University of Manitoba Visionary Conversation on what the rise of China means to the West

The University of Manitoba’s award winning community outreach program “Visionary Conversation Series” featured on February 6, 2013 a dialogue on “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Does the Rise of China lead to the decline of the West?” The discussion on this topic was moderated by Dr. David Barnard, the President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Manitoba. The panelists included Professor Tina Chen (Associate Professor, History, Faculty of Arts), Professor George Maclean (Associate Dean, Graduate Studies), Professor Hari Bapuji (Associate Professor, Business Administration, I.H. Asper School of Business), and Colin Robertson (Alumnus & Vice President and Senior Research Fellow, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute).

No economic discussion can these days be had without focusing on the social aspects, given the growing economic inequalities in China, the West and the rest of the world. Accordingly, the panelists highlighted the growing inequalities in China as well as the West, and underscored the challenges they would pose to the world at large in the future.

Dr. Bapuji, co-founder of BEIF emphasized that the rise of China does not necessarily mean a decline of the West. He deconstructed the title of the conversation to argue that if Canada would like to be truly visionary in its role on the world stage, we have to see beyond the divisions of rise and fall, east and west, economic and social. He said that it is dangerous to focus on China alone (when a number of other countries are rising), and continues to aim for economic growth in Canada and the West (when economic equality is needed to improve lives of citizens, particularly in developed countries).

These talks were followed by a lively discussion among the audience and panelists related to the challenges a rising China would pose to the world and what Canada can learn from China. A full recording of the conversation is available here.

BEIF Blog Update: Statistics Canada Releases Data on High Income Earners

Statistics Canada has released more data on high income earners in its most recent publication of The Daily. The data is a follow-up to the research paper “A Profile of High Income Canadians, 1982 to 2004”, released in September 2007. Click here to read more about what the data revealed.

BEIF Interviews Dr. Victor Cui

Dr. Victor Cui researches the effects of pay dispersion on innovation. He found that when pay dispersion (which is similar to income inequality in an organization) is high in R& D teams, it hampers innovation. Dr. Cui explains his findings in this video: http://youtu.be/4TTGte1LS20

International Conference on “Inequality, Institutions, and Organizations”

A conference examining themes related to inequality and organizational scholarship will take place from June 6-8, 2013 at the Segal Graduate School of Business in Vancouver, BC. A PhD student workshop is also scheduled prior to the main conference. Full details are available at http://inequalityinstitutionsorganizations.wordpress.com/.
Conference Date: June 6-8, 2013 Deadline for Submissions: February 8, 2013

Book Club on Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs

A book club to discuss the provocative book “Systems of Survival” by Jane Jacobs was held at the I.H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba on December 14, 2012. A full report on the discussion that explained each syndrome (or system of values), and their application to various modern contexts is discussed here. The discussion was led by .

Book Club on The Spirit Level

A book club to discuss the groundbreaking book “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett was held at Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba on October 19, 2012. A full report on the discussion that highlighted the key findings of the book, criticisms and its classroom relevance and application is here.

Research Workshop on Economic Inequality

A research workshop examining the relationship between economic inequality and business was held in the afternoon of Sep 28, 2012 at the University of Manitoba. This event, attended by researchers in the areas of business, education, and law as well as practitioners, included six presentations. A detailed report on the event, including a gist of the presentations, is here.

Talk on Social Innovation

Tom Lawrence, W. J. VanDusen Professor of Management at Simon Fraser University delivered a talk on the role of place in social innovations. In his talk, Dr. Lawrence shared insights from his study on two innovation in housing for the hard-to-house in Vancouver - the Dr. Peter Centre and a cold weather mat program. A report on the talk covering key points of Dr. Lawrence’s talk is here.

Talk on Social Innovation and Research Workshop on Economic Inequality

Tom Lawrence, W. J. VanDusen Professor of Management at Simon Fraser University will speak on two social innovations in housing for the hard-to-house in Vancouver - the Dr. Peter Centre and a cold weather mat program - to explain the role of place in social innovations. This event will take place on September 28 and coincides with Homelessness Awareness Week being conducted by Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. A research workshop examining the broader issue of economic inequality will be held in the afternoon of Sep 28 and will include a wide range of presentations .

Workshop at Academy of Management

A professional development workshop on economic inequality and business was organized by BEIF at the annual meeting of Academy of Management in Boston. The speakers (Jerry Davis, Ana Maria Peredo, Hugh Willmott, and Paul Shrivastava) made insightful presentations, which were followed by roundtable discussions on a wide range of themes. Pictures from this event can be seen here and the videos will appear on this website soon.

Special Issue of Human Relations on Economic Inequality and Management

Human Relations has just issued a call for papers for a special issue on Economic Inequality and Management. This special issue is co-edited by Hari Bapuji and Suhaib Riaz, who co-founded BEIF. This special issue intends to explore themes related to how economic inequality affects management, and vice versa. Paper proposals are due by November 30, 2012, while full papers are due in June, 2013. For more details, please visit http://www.tavinstitute.org/humanrelations/special_issues/Economic_inequalities.html

Graduate Management News of GMAC reports on BEIF

Graduate Management News, the newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council® reports on BEIF in its latest issue (May 2012). Ron Alsop who wrote a perspective piece on Occupy, income inequality and business schools quotes Suhaib Riaz and Hari Bapuji and emphasizes the need to study the relationship between business and economic inequality.

Costas Panayotakis Speaks on Economic Crises and Managers

On May 4th, BEIF organized a talk at Asper Business School by Costas Panayotakis on his recent book, “Remaking Scarcity”, and how it relates to managers. This well-attended event generated enriching discussion. More on this event here.

Public Purpose magazine of AASCU reports on BEIF

Public Purpose magazine of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities reports on BEIF in its latest issue (Winter 2012). It quotes the Bapuji & Riaz HBR piece on the need for businesses to address the issue of economic inequality, and reports on a separate interview with Dr. Riaz "Does Occupy Offer Teachable Moments?"

Special Issue of JIITO on Digital Divide

Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations (JIITO) published by Informing Science Institute has announced a special issue on Digital Divide. This special issue is co-edited by Bob Travica, a member of BEIF. This special issue intends to explore themes related the role of information and communication technologies in inequality.
Papers are due by July 1, 2012. For more details, please visit http://jiito.org.

Conference on Creating Community Options for Financial Services

As inequality rises and disadvantages an increasing number of people, they face financial exclusion because major financial institutions do not operate in such communities. To explore solutions for this problem, a conference on creating community options for financial services will be held on June 13-14, 2012 at Centre culturel franco-manitobain, 340 Provencher Boulevard, Winnipeg. It features several leading thinkers on the topic, including Jerry Buckland who recently authored a book Hard Choices: Financial Exclusion, Fringe Banks and Poverty in Urban Canada. For more details on the conference, please visit http://www.ccofs.com/.

Online Conference on Ethics and Economics (March 12-April 15, 2012)

An online conference on ethics and economics is being held at WEA Ethics Conference. This conference is organized by the newly-formed World Economics Association. The WEA promotes critical analysis of mainstream economics and supports the principle of pluralism. It currently has a membership of 7,700 worldwide. Participation is free and open to anyone interested in the topic of ethics and economics. To know why this conference is interesting, please see here.

Workshop on Researching Economic Inequality and Business

BEIF will be organizing a research workshop at the Annual Meeting of Academy of Management in Boston (Aug 3-7, 2012). This workshop is titled “Occupy, Economic Inequality and Business: Setting the Agenda.” It aims to develop a conversation on the effect of economic inequality on business, and vice versa. This workshop includes two components. The first involves a moderated discussion among four experts: Gerald (Jerry) Davis, Ana Maria Peredo, Paul Shrivastava, and Hugh Willmott. It will be followed by presentation of ideas in smaller groups and roundtable discussions, which will be lead by Adam Cobb, Lou Hammond Ketilson, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, and Srinivas Sridharan. More details on the workshop can be found here .

BEIF Public Forums covered in The Bulletin

The Bulletin, a publication of the University of Manitoba covered the public forums conducted on December 8 and 9. It provides a nice summary of the events as well as the thinking behind the events. You can read the full article here: In the year of Occupy everything: Time to start listening to the 99 percent.

Globe and Mail reports on business and economic inequality forums

The Globe and Mail reports on BEIF panels at Asper Business School - Manitoba and initiatives by other groups at B-School across Canada:

This week, the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba organized two panel discussions - one on campus and another downtown - to discuss the impact of inequality on society and the corporate bottom line.


The events are put in context, highlighting the growing importance of this issue in society:


...events came days after a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development warned of growing inequity, globally, between rich and poor.


The need for scholarly engagement with this topic, and creation of a website on the topic (this BEIF website) is mentioned:


Examining issues of the “Occupy” movement, such as the fallout from the global financial crisis and public discontent over the unequal distribution of economic wealth and power, “are all things that are good for business schools to think about”, says Asper associate professor Hari Bapuji. He was an organizer of the public events that invited speakers from academia (including U of M president David Barnard), industry and the non-profit sector.

Prof. Bapuji hopes this week’s events will encourage a sustained conversation, possibly through the creation of a website, on topics related to economic inequity and the impact on business."

Read full article here: Occupy meets suit and tie.