Department of Management, Society and Communication

Dr.scient.adm & PhD

Room: DAL/2Ø.034
E-mail: kbu.msc@cbs.dk

My research and teaching focus on sustainability with a particular emphasis on social issues, especially Business Responsibilities for Human Rights, labour standards, and social aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (including social aspects of environmental sustainability and climate change, for example living conditions, health, access to food and land).

I approach these issues from the perspective of public governance and public-private regulation, analysing how public and private organisations may work together to address global concerns related to sustainable human development and how public-private collaboration add to and result from a transnationalisation of sustainability governance and diverse forms of soft and hard law and guidance as well as specific processes, in particular social risk-based due diligence. With a background in international and public law I take a pragmatic approach to these issues, applying methods and theories from the social sciences to understand normative developments.

My recent research and teaching have addressed the evolution of the Business & Human Rights (BHR) regime, in particular the development of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the UN Global Compact from the perspectives of discourse theory and systems theory; CSR reporting as a driver for organisational change; Transnational Business Governance Interaction; and sustainable forestry in East and South East Asia between law and the market. I also work on the implementation of the normative standards I the BHR regime through pro-active measures such as social risk-based due diligence, state and non-state accountability measures such as National Contact Points under OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; EU policy and guidance on CSR and responsible sourcing; transparency and the market as drivers for responsible sourcing; certification and legality.

My research interests also include law and development and law reforms for human rights and social progress, particularly but not only focusing on China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan; and conflict resolution through alternative dispute resolution and mediation.


In 2012 I was appointed a member of the Danish National Contact Point under OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (in Danish ‘Mæglings- og klageinstitutionen for ansvarlig virksomhedsadfærd’) upon nomination by the Danish civil society network 92-gruppen. In 2015 the appointment was renewed.

I chair The BHRight Initiative for interdisciplinary research and teaching on Business & Human Rights, which was established at CBS in March 2014 in the context of an Explanatory Workshop funded by the European Research Foundation. 

In my research and networking I benefit from my previous work experience as an associate attorney in a law firm and as a civil servant in the Danish public administration, working with immigration issues under the Ministry of Justice and with human rights in development under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Danida.


Languages (teaching and supervision): Danish (mother tongue), English

Primary research areas

Business & Human Rights

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), governance and public-private regulation

Sustainable natural resource sourcing, governance and certification

Transnational law and sustainability governance and Transnational Business Governance

Development and law (esp. East Asia)

Curriculum Vitae
Link to this homepage

I am responsible for and teach at these courses:

  • Introduction to Sustainable Business (anchored at the Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, CBS)
  • Business & Human Rights: Governance, Leadership and Management (anchored at the Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, CBS)
  • Business Responsibilities for Human Rights (anchored at the Department for Business & Politics, CBS)
  • I co-teach at other courses on CSR and/sustainability, including:
    Scandinavian Sustainability & CSR (anchored at the Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, CBS, taught with Professor Jeremy Moon)

Business & Human Rights
Social Responsibility/Corporate Social Responsibility (especially normative issues; regulatory strategies; standards and certification; private, public and public-private schemes)
Sustainable human development
Transnational sustainability governance
Transnational Business governance
Sustainable natural resource sourcing
International labour standards and working conditions

Other teaching activities

Previous teaching includes: Stakeholder analysis (Roskilde University); International Labour law and Corporate Social Responsibility (University of Copenhagen);  International Labour Law at Elite Master in Management, Economics & Law (CBS & University of Copenhagen); Human Rights & International Development (University of Copenhagen);
CSR in China (as Visiting Lecturer at the Global Governance Centre at Konincklijcke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)

Selected publications

Buhmann, K. (2015) Public regulators and CSR: The ‘Social Licence to Operate’ in recent United Nations instruments on Business and Human Rights and the juridification of CSR, Journal of Business Ethics DOI 10.1007/s10551-015-2869-9

Buhmann, K. (2015) Business and Human Rights: Understanding the UN Guiding Principles from the perspective of Transnational Business Governance Interactions. Transnational Legal Theory Vol. 6 No 1 (2015), DOI 10.1080/20414005.2015.1073516

Buhmann, K. (2015) ‘Defying territorial limitations: Regulating business conduct extraterritorially through establishing obligations in EU law and national law’. In: Direct Human Rights Obligations of Corporations (eds. Jernej Letnar Cernic and T. Van Ho), The Hague: Wolf Publishers: 281-302

Buhmann, K. (2014) Normative discourses and public-private regulatory strategies for construction of CSR normativity: Towards a method for above-national public-private regulation of business social responsibilities. 850 pages (Volume 1) + 316 pages Annexes (Volume 2). Published post-doc thesis (Danish ‘doktordisputats’, successfully defended for the degree Dr.Scient.Adm., at Roskilde University on 20 June 2014). Copenhagen: Multivers publishing

Buhmann, K. (2012) Business and Human Rights: Analysing Discursive Articulation of Stakeholder Interests to Explain the Consensus-based Construction of the ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy UN Framework’. International Law Research, Vol. 1, Issue 1: 88-101, DOI: 10.5539/ilr.v1n1p88, electronically available through http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ilr/article/view/21663

Buhmann, K. (2013) The Danish CSR reporting requirement as reflexive law: Employing CSR as a modality to promote public policy. European Business Law Review, Issue 2: 187-216

Buhmann, K. (2012) Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? The Lundbeck case of Pentobarbital, the Guiding Principles on business and human rights, and competing human rights responsibilities. International Journal of Law, Ethics and Medicine, Summer 2012: 206-219

Buhmann, K. & Iben Nathan (2013) Plentiful forests, happy people? The EU’s FLEGT approach and its impact on human rights and private forestry sustainability schemes. Nordic Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2: 53-82

Buhmann, K. (2001) Implementing Human Rights through Administrative Law Reforms: The Potential in China and Vietnam. 608 pages. DJØF Publishing, Copenhagen 2001


Publications & dissemination
Karin Buhmann / Business and Human Rights : Connecting the Managerial and Legal Aspects.
In: Redefining Success: Integrating Sustainability into Management Education. . ed. /Patricia M. Flynn; Tay Keong Tan; Milenko Gudić. Abingdon : Routledge 2018, p. 97-107 (The Principles for Responsible Management Education Collection)
Book chapter
Karin Buhmann / Future Perspectives : Doing Good but Avoiding SDG-washing. Creating Relevant Societal Value without Causing Harm.
In: OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: A Glass Half Full. . ed. /Herman Mulder; Martjin Scheltema; Sander van't Foort; Constance Kwant. : OECD 2018, p. 127-134
Book chapter
Karin Buhmann / Neglecting the Proactive Aspect of Human Rights Due Diligence? : A Critical Appraisal of the EU's Non-Financial Reporting Directive as a Pillar One Avenue for Promoting Pillar Two Action.
In: Business and Human Rights Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2018, p. 23-45
Journal article
Karin Buhmann / Power, Procedure, Participation and Legitimacy in Global Sustainability Norms : A Theory of Collaborative Regulation.
London : Routledge 2018, 200 p. (Globalization: Law and Policy, Vol. 2)
Karin Buhmann / Social Transformation and Normative Change Through CSR Standards? : China's Engagement with International Labour Law in Domestic Guidance for the Textile Sector.
In: NAVEIÑ REET: Nordic Journal of Law and Social Research, Vol. 7, 2018, p. 19-33
Journal article
Karin Buhmann / Chinese Human Rights Guidance on Minerals Sourcing : Building Soft Power.
In: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2017, p. 135–154
Journal article
Karin Buhmann / Connecting Corporate Human Rights Responsibilities and State Obligations under the UN Guiding Principles : Communication and Human Rights Due Diligence.
In: Perspectives on Philosophy of Management and Business Ethics: Including a Special Section on Business and Human Rights . . ed. /Jacob Dahl Rendtorff. Vol. 2, Cham : Springer 2017, p. 281-295 (Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy, No. 2, Vol. 51)
Article in proceedings
Karin Buhmann / Human Rights and Business: : Expectations, Requirements and Procedures for the Responsible Modern Company.
In: Understanding the Company: Corporate Governance and Theory. . ed. /Barnali Choudhury; Martin Petrin. : Cambridge University Press 2017, p. 213-231
Book chapter
Karin Buhmann / Leadership from Below : Promoting Evolution of Sustainability Norms Through Technology-Assisted Broadly Participatory Process.
In: Conference Proceedings: The 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership Challenges that Matter 15 & 16 March 2017 . Pretoria : Gordon Institute of Business Science 2017, 1 p.
Conference abstract in proceedings
Georg Winkel; Sina Leipold; Karin Buhmann; Ben Cashore; Wil de Jong; Iben Nathan; Metodi Sotirov; Michael Stone / Narrating Illegal Logging Across the Globe : Between Green Protectionism and Sustainable Resource Use.
In: The International Forestry Review, Vol. 19, No. Supplement 1, 22.11.2017, p. 81-97
Journal article
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