The Center’s Minnesota Origins
Minnesota business leaders have long been committed to the highest standards of business conduct and to business leadership in community. Working together they created a Minnesota “culture of corporate citizenship” that has earned the respect of leaders around the world. Philanthropy was part of it, but not the core. Most often, they identified community challenges and pitched in to help solve the problem – applying their leadership skills and organizational resources to get the job done. They exemplified the same approach inside their companies – establishing high standards for leadership, ethical conduct and corporate responsibility.
Yet, those same leaders knew that the job is never done.
In 1978, Minnesota CEOs and leading businesses founded the Center for Ethical Business Cultures [then known as the Minnesota Project on Corporate Responsibility and subsequently the Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility]. Their goals – educate emerging leaders and continuously refresh and reinvigorate that culture of corporate citizenship to strengthen Minnesota communities and communities where they operated around the country. The Center has followed their example by working with business, nonprofit and public sector organizations throughout its history.
From the beginning the Center facilitated understanding of a spectrum of community and business policy issues, conducted institutes for emerging business leaders on stakeholder management and featured guest speakers on national and international issues.
In 1991, thirteen years after its founding, the Center convened business leaders and scholars to capture the core principles guiding Minnesota business. Those searching discussions among academics and practitioners produced The Minnesota Principles which embrace the importance of serving all stakeholders – not only shareholders. This pattern of convening thinkers and doers continued as the Center played a key role in developing the Caux Round Table Principles for Business (based in large part on The Minnesota Principles). The Principles continue to frame the Center’s work and shape its vision of ethical leadership and what is required to create a world of ethical leaders.
A Distinctive Partnership – Serving Business and Education
In 1988, the Center partnered with the University of St. Thomas (UST). This step underscored the University’s commitment to ethics in business education as marked earlier in the mid-1980s by the endowment of the David and Barbara Koch Chair in Business Ethics. The partnership positioned CEBC as a “bridging organization” connecting the knowledge and expertise of the academic world with the experience and practical know-how of the business world.
In 2004, the University and the Center intensified and re-affirmed this long-standing partnership, establishing a relationship described as a permanent joint venture. Today, the Center is exclusively affiliated with St. Thomas and situated in the Opus College of Business. In addition, it has developed close working relationships with other St. Thomas centers, institutes and faculty as well as colleagues at other academic institutions to develop and deliver executive leadership education seminars and conduct research on ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility issues.
CEBC’s mission is closely aligned with the mission of the University of St. Thomas and of the Opus College of Business. All share the belief, in the words of noted Minnesota business leader David Koch, that “the purpose of business is to serve people.”
- For the Center – Assisting business leaders in creating ethical and profitable business cultures at the enterprise, community and global levels.
- For the College – Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the Opus College of Business develops effective, principled business leaders who think globally, act ethically and create enduring value for society.
- For the University – Educating students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.
The CEBC History Timeline
- 1978: Established as the Project on Corporate Responsibility by leading Minnesota CEOs. Programmatic emphasis on communicating concepts of stakeholder management to emerging business leaders.
- 1978-1988: Don Imsland serves as Executive Director.
- 1982: Incorporated as a non-profit organization and name changed to the Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility. Added programs during the 1980s on dealing with critical issues facing businesses and communities in Minnesota including education reform, diversity, environment, philanthropy and the role of the corporation.
- 1989-1990: Paul Parker - former General Mills executive, and subsequently Peter Gillette - former Norwestern National Bank executive, serve as President.
- 1990-1995: Charlie Mundale - former editor of Corporate Report serves as Executive Director.
- 1988: Affiliates with the University of St. Thomas (UST) Graduate School of Business (now the Opus College of Business).
- 1991-1998: Robert MacGregor - former President of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and former President of Chicago United, serves as President.
- 1992: Develops and publishes The Minnesota Principles drawing on the expertise and experience of Minnesota business and academic leaders.
- 1994: Hosts and facilitates a drafting committee of the Caux Round Table (CRT), a group of global business leaders, resulting in the CRT adopting The Minnesota Principles, and with the Center’s help, integrates European and Japanese concepts to form the CRT Principles for Business, now published in 16 languages.
- 1998: Name changed to the Center for Ethical Business Cultures with the mission of assisting business leaders in creating ethical and profitable business cultures at the enterprise, community and global levels.
- 1998-2004: Academic affiliation expanded to include the University of Minnesota (UMN) Carlson School of Management. CEBC developed very successful international study abroad experiences in ethics and corporate social responsibility for both UST and UMN MBAs. The Center also collaborated with UMN on a series of national ethics conferences for scholars and business practitioners.
- 1998-1999: Michael Evers - Dean Emeritus of the University of St. Thomas College of Business, serves as Acting President.
- 2000: Publishes Culture of Corporate Citizenship: Minnesota’s Business Legacy for the Global Future, commissioned by the Center and authored by Bill Bocklman.
- 2000: Ron James - former President and CEO of the Human Resources Group, a division of Ceridian Corporation, appointed President and CEO of the Center.
- 2000: Minnesota Business Ethics Award launched.
- 2001-2007: Key steps forward in the areas of services to leaders, research, programming and support for UST’s MBA educational program.
- 2002: Publishes The Ethical Advantage, a pamphlet developed and written by CEBC Executive Business Fellow James A. Mitchell.
- 2002–2003: Ron James, CEBC’s President and CEO, serves on the Advisory Group of the United States Sentencing Commission with a task of reviewing the 10-year Federal Sentencing Guidelines that apply to Organizations.
- 2004: Decision taken and agreements implemented to make the affiliation with the University of St. Thomas exclusive and permanent. The University commits to assisting the Center in establishing an endowment. Center continues to be housed in and working closely with the UST Opus College of Business.
- 2006: Ron James honored by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) with its 2nd annual SCCE International Compliance Award.
- 2008: Programming to mark the Center’s 30th Anniversary of the Center’s founding and the 20th Anniversary of the Center’s affiliation with the University of St. Thomas.
- 2008: Publishes New Obstacles in Setting the Tone at the Top…and Some Solutions, a report developed and written by CEBC Executive Business Fellow Richard F. Ziegler.
- 2008: James A Mitchell, Former Chairman and CEO of IDS and CEBC Executive Business Fellow, recognized by Ethisphere in its 2008 list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics in the corporate culture category.
- 2010: Ron James recognized by Ethisphere in its 2010 list of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics in the thought leadership category.
- 2011: Douglas Jondle, Ph.D., Research Director at the Center for Ethical Business Cultures, Alexandria Ardichvili, Ph.D., University of Minnesota and Brenda Kowske, Ph.D., Kenexa, Inc., received the Award for Highly Commended Paper at the 12th International Conference on Human Resource Development Research and Practice across Europe, University of Gloucestershire, UK presented by Journal of European Industrial Training.
- 2011: Ron James was recognized in October of 2011 by Twin Cities Business in association with the National Association of Corporate Directors as a 2011 Outstanding Director and additionally for Lifetime Achievement in the field of governance.
- 2012: Douglas Jondle, Ph.D., James Mitchell and Alexandre Ardichvili, Ph.D. received the 2012 Cutting Edge Award from the Academy of Human Resource Development for a paper entitled “Development and Validation of the Ethical Business Culture Construct and Survey Instrument.”
- 2012: CEBC celebrated the publication of Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience. The distinguished team of scholars included: Archie B. Carroll, Ph.D., Kenneth Lipartito, Ph.D., James E. Post, Ph.D., Patricia H. Werhane, Ph.D. and Kenneth E. Goodpaster, Ph.D. (Executive Editor).