Thoughts on the City of Edmonton’s Sustainable Procurement

On Wednesday, I received an email from David Staples, a columnist at the Edmonton Journal.

Professor Gehman:

I need your advice on something. I’m looking for an expert in sustainability issues and contracts… The city is buying 250 bike racks, and in the procurement contract it strikes me there is a ton of red tape for such a small purpose. I also wonder if the policy will work to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability, or if there might not be better ways of doing it, more elegant ways, as opposed to this way, which strikes me as a make-work project and one that is difficult if not impossible to verify.

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Serendipity Arrangements Article In Press

Today, my latest article — “Serendipity Arrangements for Exapting Science-Based Innovations” — was published online. Co-authored with Raghu Garud and Antonio Giuliani, the article is forthcoming in the Academy of Management Perspectives, as part of a special issue on “The Commercialization of Science: An Integrative Research Agenda on Managing the Science-Business Interfaces” guested edited by Mike Wright (Imperial College London), Riccardo Fini (University of Bologna), Einar Rasmussen (Nord University), Donald Siegel (State University of New York at Albany), and Johan Wiklund (Syracuse University).

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Northgate Industries Case Study Published

This morning I received an email from The Case Centre notifying me that our case study — “Northgate Industries Ltd.: Sustainability Challenges Involving Public Policy” — was published. Co-authored with Mana Heydari, Ashley Theberge, and Sid Tetz (all former MBA students), the case study investigates Edmonton-based Northgate Industries Ltd., a provider of modular lodging structures for the oil and gas industry. One of its large manufacturing facilities is located near the Edmonton City Centre Airport area and Northgate has been utilizing the airport for multiple business purposes. At the time of the case, the City of Edmonton is considering closing down the airport. After numerous city meetings, input from the public, and a benefit cost analysis, the city eventually decided to close down the city center airport and to proceed with plans to redevelop the area into a sustainable residential community. The case asks students to decide how Northgate should respond to the potential loss of the business and whether to restructure its business model so that it would match the city’s vision for a new sustainable community. This is the eighth business school case study I’ve published.

There are two parts to the case study and a companion teaching note:

Future Energy Systems Website Launched

Today, the new Future Energy Systems (FES) website was launched. FES was first established on September 7, 2016, when the University of Alberta was awarded $75 million over seven years for energy research through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). FES currently consists of 12 theme areas; each theme is coordinated by a team of three co-champions:

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Broken Paths or Path Breaking Failures?

On Thursday, I presented some of my latest research — “Legitimation Spillovers and Piggybacking: How Distributed Successes and Failures Move Market Categories” — at the West Coast Research Symposium on Technology Entrepreneurship. Co-authored with J.-F. Soublière, the paper develops and tests a set of novel theoretical predictions about the role of prior successes and failures on the legitimation of new ideas and products (i.e., the extent to which they garner the attention and support of key audiences).

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Grant Awarded from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation

I am pleased to announce that I have been awarded a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) in the amount of $30,000. The grant will be used to extend coverage of WellWiki.org to include detailed information on ~500,000 oil and gas wells in Alberta. Specifically, the grant will support salary costs for research assistants to analyze and structure the new data, architect and expand the underlying wells database, and format and build the new pages on WellWiki.org.

Grant Approved by the Sustainability Enhancement Fund

Today I received notice that my Sustainability Enhancement Fund (SEF) grant proposal was fully funded by the University of Alberta Office of Sustainability. Dubbed the “Strategies for Sustainable Business Case Writing Project,” this year-long funding will support the publication of case studies that examine challenges of and solutions for addressing sustainability concerns in managerial and organizational contexts. These case studies will be available for use by business school faculty around the world in teaching the next generation of business leaders. This is my first grant from the SEF.

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Congrats to JF on His Dissertation Proposal Defense

This morning, Jean-François (J.-F.) Soublière successfully defended his dissertation proposal — Essays on Cultural Entrepreneurship: Distributed Cultural Entrepreneurship, Legitimacy Spillovers and Piggybacking, and a Theory of Meaning Cultivation. He is now a Ph.D. candidate, my first Ph.D. student to reach this milestone. I have been J.-F.’s supervisor since he joined our program in August 2014. His other committee members were Michael Lounsbury and Dev Jennings and his outside examiners were Mary Ann Glynn (Boston College) and Tim Hannigan (University of Alberta).

The Business-Society Interface

This afternoon I had an opportunity to give a talk — “The Business-Society Interface: Meeting the Challenges of Sustainability, Social License to Operate, and Innovation” — to a group of oil and gas executives visiting the University of Alberta from India. The talk covered topics such as sustainability, ESG ratings, and fossil fuel divestment, while also drawing on ideas which originated in two of my published articles: Metatheoretical Perspectives on Sustainability Journeys and Social License to Operate.

Goodbye to Cindy Dong

This morning I said goodbye to Cong (Cindy) Dong, a Ph.D. student from China University of Petroleum School of Business Administration in Beijing, who has been visiting me for the past year through a prestigious grant from the China Scholarship Council. During her time at the University of Alberta, Cindy attended doctoral seminars with our Ph.D. students and participated in my Department’s paper development workshops and visiting speaker series.

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