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Aiming Higher With Appreciative Inquiry: Building on our Collaboration
With the United Nations Global Compact

In June of 2004 Appreciative Inquiry was chosen as the methodology for a Leaders Summit at the United Nations. It involved CEOs from companies like BP, Daimler-Chrysler, Goldman Sachs, Hewlett Packard, Starbucks, and Volvo as well as civil society and UN leaders. It was an important meeting in the life of the UN Global Compact which is perhaps the larges global corporate citizenship network in the world. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan gave a commendation to the team from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, particularly for the methodology of Appreciative Inquiry. On June 21, 2004 Kofi Annan wrote:

“I would like to commend you more particularly for your methodology of Appreciative Inquiry and to thank you for introducing it to the United Nations. Without this, it would have been very difficult, perhaps even impossible, to constructively engage so many leaders of business, civil society, and government.”

At that time there were about 1,400 organizational members of the Global Compact. Today that number is close to 2, 500 and that growth, we believe, signals an important inflection point in the worldwide emergence of new conceptions of corporate citizenship, sustainable enterprise, and what might be called more proactively the idea of  “business as an agent of world benefit.”

Building on that 2004 Leaders Summit, we have again connected with the UN Global Compact, and proposed an additional partner, the Academy of Management, to join forces for a next phase global forum titled:

Business as an Agent of World Benefit:
Management Knowledge Leading Positive Change
October 23rd-25th 2006

The Forum includes a threefold call to:

  1. Unite the strengths of business with the universally recognized values of the UN Global Compact and the world’s Millennium Development Goals, which include the eradication of extreme poverty, restoring the environment, and building partnerships for peace and development;
  2. Directly challenge “the great trade-off illusion” and to explore fresh research on the business case for sustainable development as essential to contemporary corporate strategy and societal well-being; and
  3. Re-envision management education as a major world player in transformational learning—to envision management education extending its immense influence to advance global corporate citizenship by transforming intellectual frameworks and attitudes, and thus the contributions of millions of future leaders.
This is the first time in history that the Academy of Management has partnered with the United Nations Global Compact. The Academy of Management is the leading professional association for scholars dedicated to creating and disseminating knowledge about management and organizations. Members are scholars at colleges, universities, and research institutions, as well as practitioners with scholarly interests from business, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  Founded in 1936, the Academy of Management is the oldest and largest scholarly management association in the world.  Today, the Academy is the professional home of more than 16,000 members from 91 countries.

Hosted at Case Western Reserve University, the Forum is emerging as an unprecedented opportunity to bring together leading business executives, management scholars, civil society leaders, government policy makers, and top students from around the world to identify and to leverage new solutions that have the potential to change the nature of 21st-century society. The format, like the content, of the Forum will encircle the globe, with delegates coming from around the world to attend the Forum in person and an additional 3,000 delegates expected to participate virtually. Speakers at the Forum will include such leaders as the author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, CK Prahalad, Harvard’s Jane Nelson, who is conducting groundbreaking work on business initiatives for peace, thought leader Warren Bennis, someone who seems always to be ahead of his time, and the Academy of Management’s President, Tom Cummings, whose foresight has allowed the Forum to become a reality.  UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been invited to serve as Honorary Chair of the event.

The aspirations for the Forum are not meager. The Forum presentations, panels, papers, dialogues, and debates are organized around three themes: (1) the state of the world and the economic possibilities of our time; (2) the business case for understanding business as an agent of world benefit—how business performance can profit from current and future advances in global corporate citizenship; and (3) management education as the leader in facilitating the transformational learning needed for 21st-century success—including opportunities that Canadian designer, Bruce Mau, recognizes as “massive change” and learnings that the Club of Rome labels as “anticipatory” and “transformational.” Could it be—with the right mix of innovation and entrepreneurship—thatthe creation of sustainable value could become the business opportunity of the 21st century? Are we actually beginning to recognize the next phase of responsible business and global corporate citizenship—and beyond? Can we anticipate a tipping point in business practice, as well as in management education and research that will redefine the very nature of business’s approach to earning profits and to positively influencing society for the benefit of all humanity?

Attached you will find the complete overview of the global forum. It’s all about advances in what Marty Seligman and the positive psychology movement would call “positive institutions”---helping to advance the science of human strengths. I encourage everyone in the AI community to read the overview and to consider participating in the forum’s pre-work and calls for papers, workshops and stories of innovation; likewise please feel free to download and email the overview to people, organizations, and other communities interested in the arena of positive change and the forum’s aims.

It will be exciting.

David L. Cooperrider  


Positive Organization Development: Innovation-inspired Change in an Economy and Ecology of Strengths 
August, 2010

Decade of Determination: Building an Economic Engine Empowering a Green City on a Blue Lake Through "AI"
September, 2009

Going Green Maximum Velocity through AI's Sustainable Design Factory
March, 2008

Aiming Higher with Appreciative Inquiry: Building on our Collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact
February, 2006

David Cooperrider's Foreword to Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn
November, 2005

High Hope in the Himalayas: A 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Her Work With Appreciative Inquiry
September, 2005

The United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit
February, 2005

"Blessed is this peacemaker"
January, 2005

New Publications on AI: Forewards by David Cooperrider
February, 2004

Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Replay video
October, 2003

Peter Drucker's Advice for Us on the New AI Project: Business as an Agent of World Benefit
March, 2003

The Birth of the AI Commons
October, 2001

- Sponsored by the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University -
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