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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Using BP Neural Networks to Prioritize Risk Management

Today, my latest article was published in the open access journal Sustainability. The article — Using BP Neural Networks to Prioritize Risk Management Approaches for China’s Unconventional Shale Gas Industry — was co-authored by Cong (Cindy) Dong (a Ph.D. student at China University of Petroleum School of Business Administration, currently visiting me at the University of Alberta), Xiucheng Dong (China University of Petroleum, School of Business Administration), Joel Gehman (University of Alberta School of Business), and Lianne M. Lefsrud (University of Alberta, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering).

China has become the top energy consumer in the world. At the same time, China is facing intense international and domestic pressure to reduce the greenhouse gas and other emissions resulting from its primarily coal-based energy system. Given these twin pressures of increasing energy demand while controlling emissions, the development of China’s shale gas industry has emerged as a strategic national priority.The shale gas resource distribution in China is illustrated in Figure 1. Seven provinces—Sichuan, Xinjiang, Chongqing, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei and Shanxi—account for 68.9% of the nation’s total reserves.

Figure 1. Shale gas resource potential in China’s provinces (trillions of m3).

Continue reading

The Future of Research on Sustainability in Management

On November 4, 2016, I was invited to speak at the 2016 Ivey Sustainability Conference. This one-day event was organized by Diane-Laure Arjalies, Oana Branzei, and Tima Bansal (all from Ivey Business School). Other invited faculty included Fabrizio Ferraro (IESE Business School) and Donal Crilly (London Business School). Several students, post doctoral research fellows, and faculty from Ivey Business School also made presentations.

The day concluded with a plenary session: “The Future of Research on Sustainability in Management.” Donal, Fabrizio, and I were each asked to submit a picture that captured our answers to five questions. The slides I prepared to accompany my remarks are available in a previous post. Today, Ivey Business School posted some video clips from the session to YouTube.

1. What do you think is the current position of sustainability in the management research landscape?

Continue reading

Connecting Innovation with Sustainability

Professors Tima Bansal (Ivey Business School), Joel Gehman (University of Alberta), and Marie-France Turcotte (Université du Québec à Montréal) have been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to help companies connect innovation with sustainability. In this Q&A, the researchers discuss why this work is so important, what it will accomplish, and how businesses can get involved.

Q1. Why do innovation and sustainability need to go together? How hard is it to accomplish this in business?

Answer: Sustainability is about creating shared value—value for the business and for society simultaneously. It means business activities benefit a range of stakeholders—shareholders, employees, the community, society, the ecosystem—today and over time.

But if sustainability was easy, everyone would be doing it well. It’s not easy. It’s complex and it’s uncertain. In an effort to simplify, firms often think about sustainability as an ‘add on’ to what they’re already doing. This approach results in a vastly distorted picture of a firm’s long-term sustainability potential.

Continue reading

2016 Ivey Sustainability Conference Plenary Talk

Today, I participated in the 2016 Ivey Sustainability Conference. This one-day event was organized by Diane-Laure Arjalies, Oana Branzei, and Tima Bansal (all from Ivey Business School). Other invited faculty included Fabrizio Ferraro (IESE Business School) and Donal Crilly (London Business School). The day concluded with a plenary session: “The Future of Research on Sustainability in Management.” Donal, Fabrizio, and I were each asked to submit a picture that captured our answers to five questions:

  1. What do you think is the current position of sustainability in the management research landscape?
  2. What do you believe are the current trends in research on sustainability?
  3. Which areas/methods/topics do you think will be topical in the coming decade?
  4. What would you personally like to see in 10 years?
  5. Where do you see yourself as an academic in 15 years?

Below are the slides I prepared.