Supply Chain Experiments at Santam started in South Africa

On Tuesday May 21, 25 motor body repair (MBR) specialists came together at the head quarters of the leading South African insurer Santam to discuss with sustainability experts and university research partners current environmental issues and challenges in their industry. The research project developed by GOLDEN has the goal to identify alternative ways to introduce sustainable principles in Santam’s MBR supplier chain, and to measure which of these methods have the best outcomes. The international team members, involving researchers from the University of St.Gallen and Bocconi University, joined local colleagues from the UCT Graduate School of Business, to design and host the workshop.

The main goal of the workshop was to get feedback from the MBRs on the daily challenges they face when trying to be more environmentally responsible. Measurement and reporting play a key role in this effort and allow supply chain partners to identify the most important environmental issues to tackle. In the workshop various reporting methods and guidelines were introduced to determine which is the most effective in achieving the above.

Members of Santam’s strategy and sustainability department shared with the workshop participants the company’s strategic priorities for improving sustainability. They detailed Santam’s efforts at reducing its environmental footprint, for example by reducing waste, travel, energy consumption in the company. They also stressed the importance of working together across the supply chain to achieve significant improvements of environmental practices.

Another contribution highlighted the most important compliance issues in the context of MBR. MBR partners who attended the workshop had the chance to share how they manage common environmental issues in their shops with each other. The workshop participants agreed that environmental compliance and performance is becoming increasing important for business in the MBR industry. One of the attendants suggested: “We are not competing with each other on environmental issues. We should share and learn from each other about what can be done to improve our environmental performance.”

The workshop provided a great foundation for mutual learning and for scaling up this process by expanding the reporting initiative online to MBR’s across South Africa. The most successful reporting schemes could then also be replicated across the supply chain, supporting Santam’s environmental efforts, and making a significant and lasting difference.

If you are interested in this line of GOLDEN’s activities please contact Frank Brueck.

GOLDEN in China

A political discourse over sustainability has spread into China within the last decade. As the ‘unintended consequences‘ of 30 years of intensive and unregulated economic development, started to emerge, Beijing realised that sustainability related issues have a fundamental role to play in both the domestic and international agenda. Environmental pollution (water soil and air), chronic violation of workers rights, excessive pressure on natural resources, growing social disparity, urbanization, the consequences of climate change are only some of the challenges the current leadership has been called to face. The approach Beijing has decided to take in dealing with sustainability issues is not entirely based on wellknown western paradigms. Within its political, cultural and economics unique scenario China authorities and corporate world have acquired foreign ideas and digested them endowing the discourse over sustainable development and related corporate social responsibility practices (CSR) with unique characteristics, tailored to China’s social and political circumstances.

Is this within this framework that Golden has started to discuss with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS), a prominent governmental think tank, how to contribute to its Security and Crises Management Program (SCM) focusing on Strategic Management and Risk Prevention. One of the key areas of the collaboration will undoubtedly cover EU, China and Central Asia cooperation and the “New Silk Road Economic Belt”. GOLDEN will be asked to provide unbiased analysis to envisage hidden risks related to sustainability issues (both in terms of environment and social stability) for Chinese SOEs  operating abroad as well as to provide training for Chinese officials and develop policy papers with SCM. An MoU between GOLDEN and SASS has been signed and a trip to China is set for next September to set up next steps.

If you are interested in GOLDEN’s activities in China please contact Nicoletta Ferro.

Combining Research and Education – GOLDEN’s new educational approach

Reviewing the learning cycles around experimental research processes lead to the development of a new educational approach for executive education: the GOLDEN Action Learning in Sustainability (GOALS). The approach is based on strengths of the GOLDEN network: Teaching excellence, action learning (i.e. active work on real life cases), applying research scenarios for learning processes, experiential learning for the development of personal CSR skills, developing alternative solutions to sustainability challenges, and the application of these solutions in experimental settings.

1. Teaching Excellence

The curriculum and course materials are based on the research work of the GOLDEN network and hence represent the latest knowledge in the context of sustainability and business. The strength of the approach lies in the collective knowledge base and teaching experience of the network.

2. Action Learning

The learning approach is represented by the work on real life cases. Particularly in executive education the direct access to business cases is possible for managers in their own organizations. The application of the course content in the business context the participants know well is therefore possible in most cases. This allows the application of several layers of expertise (business skill, sustainability related knowledge, ethical aspects) with multiple learning loops through changes of the perspective by addressing sustainability issues. 

3. Applying Research Methods

The analysis of real life business cases requires the application of tools usually used in research, like interviews, short surveys and the analysis of archival data material (like sustainability or annual reports). GOLDEN has developed a range of such tools with clear application protocols. The participants will get trained in the use of these tools and will gain new insights by their application during the course.

4. Experiential Learning

Besides the cognitive learning components is also important to provide a certain amount of training on the non-cognitive level (e.g. the emotional side of business). The development of the necessary skills to become a socially responsible manager requires training beyond cognitive input. GOLDEN has worked with experimental learning approaches in various contexts connected to sustainability and CSR already.

5. Solution Development

In the case work the participants will have analyzed sustainability issues in a business organization – this is an important first step which has to be followed by the development of alternative solutions. The work on the solutions will again require a different set of thinking from the participants. On the one hand this will be the application of theoretical knowledge in a business situation. On the other hand the development of applicable solutions requires an in depth view on the potential effects and impacts of certain interventions.

6. Experimentation

Once a set solutions is prepared it might even be possible to apply them in an existing corporate context. In many cases companies have a vital interest to have a group of training people apply their minds on one or the other issue they are struggling with in order to save their own resources. If such an opportunity opens up the best two alternative solutions will be chosen and applied in a pilot form in a selected department of the company.

With the application of the above mentioned principles GOALS combines learning and research outcomes in one concept. The way this approach produces more than the immediate learning outcomes for the participants. The research data collected in the classes will enable further insights and hence deepen the knowledge on how companies organize their actions and learning around sustainability challenges. Thus GOALS updates and renews itself constantly.

If you are interested in this line of GOLDEN’s activities please contact Frank Brueck.

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