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?

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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.

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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.

2016 Ivey Sustainability Conference

Today, I gave an invited talk 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. In addition to participating in the closing plenary on “The Future of Research on Sustainability in Management,” I presented research I have been conducting with Matthew Grimes (Indiana University) on Certified B Corporations.

Below are the slides from my talk.

Hydraulic Fracturing, Newspaper Coverage, and Social License to Operate

We have been hard at work transforming research originally prepared for our report for Canadian Water Network into a series of interdisciplinary peer-reviewed publications. The first of what we hope will be a trilogy of articles was published today in the open access journal Sustainability. The article — “Comparative Analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Practices in Unconventional Shale Development: Newspaper Coverage of Stakeholder Concerns and Social License to Operate” — was co-authored by an interdisciplinary team, including Joel Gehman (professor at the University of Alberta, Department of Strategic Management & Organization), Dara Y. Thompson (former M.Sc. student at the University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology), Daniel S. Alessi (professor at the University of Alberta, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), Diana M. Allen (professor at Simon Fraser University, Department of Earth Sciences), Greg G. Goss (professor at the University of Alberta, Department of Biological Sciences).

The starting point for the overall project was the conceptualization of the hydraulic fracturing wastewater context as comprised of three potentially interrelated spheres of action (Figure 1). By delineating between operator practices, regulatory requirements, and stakeholder concerns, our goal was to better understand the extent to which these different spheres affected one another, if at all. In essence, we conceptualized the hydraulic fracturing wastewater context as a dynamic process in which any one sphere has the potential to influence the other two. Relative to the overall conceptual framework, this article focuses on one of these spheres specifically: stakeholder concerns.

Figure 1. Conceptualization of the hydraulic fracturing wastewater context.

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2016 Campus Sustainability Leadership Award

On Earth Day, April 22, 2016, I was humbled to receive the University of Alberta’s 2016 Campus Sustainability Leadership Award, even more so after learning I was nominated by one of my former MBA students. First bestowed in 2012, the award recognizes a student or staff member who shows dedication, impact, and leadership in integrating sustainability into teaching and learning. I am the first faculty member to receive the award.

 

Tradeoffs in Sustainability-Oriented Innovations

Today, our article on intertemporal tradeoffs in sustainability-oriented innovations was published in the MIT Sloan Management Review as part of its series on Sustainability-Oriented Innovation. Co-authored by Tima Bansal, Hadi Chapardar, and Joel Gehman, the original story is available here: Tradeoffs in Sustainability-Oriented Innovations.

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