Professor Rob Phillips, from the University of Richmond, Virginia, in America, recently gave a fascinating lecture on moral responsibilities and where they lie in the new networked economy.
His visit to the University of Melbourne was jointly sponsored by an Eminent Research Scholar Award from the Faculty of Business and Economics and the Gourlay Visiting Professor in Business Ethics endowment from Trinity College.
To about 150 people in the University’s Faculty of Business and Economics building, Professor Rob Phillips gave an engaging and animated discussion of the ways in which the ‘network’, ‘gig’ or ‘sharing’ economy blurs lines and upends our traditional assumptions about how businesses and customers work.
He suggested that the growing use of contractors, as well as ‘sharing’ networks like Uber and Airbnb, mean we have to rethink what is fair, ethical and sustainable as managers, shareholders, customers and academics.
The audience included students from Trinity and across the University, academics from the University of Melbourne and international visiting scholars, as well as researchers and members of the public.
The Warden, Professor Ken Hinchcliff, Mrs Louise Gourlay OAM, Mrs Emma Harrison and Mr Jono Gourlay were also in attendance.
The audience engaged Professor Phillips in a range of challenging and insightful questions, from the theoretical to the practical; there was an Airbnb host in the audience who asked about competition and collaboration.
The Gourlay Family has supported Melbourne lectures from eminent international business ethics specialists for over a decade. Previous years have seen public lectures, business breakfasts and masterclasses.
The $2.5 million endowment, which established the Gourlay Visiting Professor in Business Ethics, has enabled some of the top business ethics scholars in the world to visit Trinity College, include Professor Ed Freeman, Professor Joanne Ciulla and Professor Ronald Jeurissen.
Planning is now underway for the next Gourlay Lecture event.
Select photos from the lecture