Max Havelaar Lectures

Max Havelaar Lectures

Generation Y challenges you!

Media, business practitioners, management students, and scholars are more and more interested in the potential of the leaders of the current generation to lead business and society into a more sustainable direction. Will this new generation embrace sustainability to such an extent that fundamental change can occur? Or will these activities remain marginal and become only slowly embedded in mainstream business and society, as has happened so often with activities by some of the older generations? In the Max Havelaar Lecture 2014, several generation Y leaders ‘battled’ against members of older generations. This booklet contains the transcripts and photos of this lecture, as well as supporting research about generational differences. 

Managing the transition to a truly value-creating economy

It goes without debate that international supply or value chains only add real value to a selected group of companies and people. Cost and benefits are difficult to assess and even more difficult to be distributed in a ‘fair’ manner. The 2013 Max Havelaar lecture brought these three perspectives together in three lectures that each present a positive message: (1) on the untapped potential of fair trade, (2) on the inevitability of true pricing and (3) on the future of fair banking. With key note speeches from Peter Blom and Adrian de Groot Ruiz.

Fairtrade and Climate Change

Can climate and development issues be tackled through partnerships? In view of the very limited number of multi-stakeholder partnerships for climate change in general, and those focused on

development (developing countries) in particular, it seems useful to take a step back and consider the linkages between climate

and development in a bit more detail. Also: what are the finance perspectives on climate change? And how do farmers look at the topic? Is there a trade-off between fairtrade and climate change? The fifth Max Havelaar Lecture considers these tensions. Position paper written by Ans Kolk and Jonathan Pinkse.

With great power comes great responsibility

This is the motto of the struggling hero Spiderman. The continuous struggle of Spiderman with grasping his powers as well as linking this to his responsibilities not only provides an exciting sequel, but also a strong metaphor for the struggle of big corporations around the world when confronted with the challenges of fair trade. Society contains immense power asymmetries, but does that also imply power abuse and unfairness? The fourth Max Havelaar lecture concentrated on the question whether corporate power can be a force for good (defined as the interlinked aims of human rights and sustainable development) and under what conditions?  Five different angles are covered in the booklet: Power of Science, Power of Retail, Power of the NGO, Power of the Producer and Power of the Diplomat. Key note speeches by Jan Pronk, George Yip and many others.

Chains for Change

Trade is an important means to achieve poverty reduction and empowerment. The slogan ‘Trade. Not aid’ regards millions of disadvantaged and marginalized small producers in developing countries who are able to fight poverty on their own, if only the market would allow them. Fair access to the trade system under better trade conditions would help them to overcome the barriers to development. This concept is worldwide acknowledged as Fairtrade. Fairtrade is the alternative approach to the conventional trade system and addresses the injustice and discrimination against the poorest and weakest producers. Keynote speeches and position paper by Gerry Gereffi and Bert Koenders.

Fairtrade is a classic example of sustainable supply chain management and after its introduction in the Netherlands in 1988 many other initiatives originated.

Sustainable supply chain management has proved to be an effective means for companies to contribute to global sustainability. However, it has not been easy. Comparing the various supply chain management initiatives, many questions arise. Which one has been the most successful? What are the current trends? What are the opportunities for the future? Where does the responsibility of global multinational companies end? What roles need to be assigned to NGO’s, governments and science?

We take great pleasure in inviting you to discuss all these issues in the upcoming Max Havelaar Lecture ‘Chains for Change’. Various speakers from a wide range of perspectives will provide us with their vision and ambitions on how supply chain management can contribute to global sustainability and empowerment.

Partnerships for Development

Since the beginning of the 21st century ‘partnerships’ have received increasing attention on the development agenda. Governments and NGOs seek alliances with firms to increase the effectiveness of their development efforts. Partnerships have been pioneered in infrastructure projects, millennium villages, the provision of health services and (micro)credits. The increasing involvement of firms in development partnerships is particularly noticeable. Key note speech and contribution by Noreen Hertz.


But what is the logic of these partnerships and to what extent do they really provide a novel approach to development? Is it a tool or an aim? What problems are partnerships supposed to solve and how effective are they? Can partnerships also provide an excuse for not doing enough? Is there a discrepancy between the ideals and the reality of partnerships?

Read the background paper of Professor Rob van Tulder, RSM Erasmus University, Business-Society Management.

Poverty and Business

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the potential contribution of corporations to a large number of societal issues has received increasing attention and controversy. This also applies to arguably the biggest global challenge of the moment: alleviating poverty. Until recently, the issue of poverty was largely ignored in management theory and practice. Key note speeches by Geoffrey Sachs, Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Antony Burgmans.

Management studies at the moment lack the firm specific strategic frameworks, the conceptual tools, as well as the firm specific data to address the poverty issue in all its dimensions. This rather ambiguous state of affairs, however, has not prevented the issue from appearing prominently on the agenda of corporate decision makers. Neither did it prevent business gurus from devising formulas in which poverty is considered an opportunity rather than a threat. Consequently, the mood towards the involvement of firms in general and multinationals in specific in poverty alleviation is changing.

Will this mood-change prove sustainable or is it merely a new management gimmick? What is the influence of other issues like global warming? 

Read the background paper of Professor Rob van Tulder, RSM Erasmus University, Business-Society Management.