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.
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.
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.
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.
In the context of the GOLDEN Observatory P. Snoeren and M. Zollo are currently investigating what factors distinguish organizations capable of both high social/environmental sustainability performance and short-term economic performance from those who are not. From the analysis of 10,022 sustainability initiatives carried out by large companies operating in the electric utility sector, evidence has been found that firms that excel in short term financial and in environmental and social performance do not only exert higher efforts in terms of the number of sustainability actions, but also target different stakeholder groups and different societal issues.
In addition, and most importantly, firms that do well on both accounts are also more likely to undertake initiatives oriented to internal operating change, rather than externally oriented stakeholder management. When subdividing internal change into initiatives aimed toward adapting current processes and those aimed toward adding new products, the data shows that companies capable of both short-term financial performance and long-term sustainability performance emphasize the adaptation of current processes to integrate sustainability vis-à-vis new sustainable product development.
The Complexity of Wicked Problems in Large Systems Change
S. Waddock, G. Meszoely, S. Waddell & D. Dentoni
Purpose: This paper extends and elaborates the notion of successful organizational change to incorporate the concept of large system change, by developing a framework that brings together complexity and wicked problems theories to understand how individual organizations and change agents can better influence large system change.
Design: This conceptual paper integrates wicked problems and complexity theories to understand and cope with large system initiatives from the perspective of change agents in organizations, and uses the case of the electricity system as an illustrative example for these concepts.
Findings: The paper provides implications for large systems change and action steps for change agents in organizations, arguing that by understanding change initiatives through the lenses of complexity and wicked problems, change agents are likely to be more effective.
Research Implications: The integration of complexity science and wicked problems underpins the development of a comprehensive framework for creating effective large system change solutions, however, these ideas still need to be grounded in practice and empirical research.
Practical Implications: Using these ideas, change agents in organizations can enhance their influence and use the power of system dynamics to support positive action for sustainable change. This paper provides a foundation to help think through the cross-sectorial, inter-organizational, and change dynamics involved in large system change efforts needed to bring about a more sustainable, secure, and equitable world for all.
If your are interested in this paper please contact Steve Waddell.
The 31st Annual Conference of the European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) takes place in Athens July 2-5 2015. It is the third year in a row that researchers connected to GOLDEN contribute to the EGOS conferences with an entire track related to the research questions of the GOLDEN program. This year, for our subtheme on Challenging Unreflective Organizational Life: Innovating towards Sustainable Enterprise Models (co-chaired by Stefano Brusoni (ETH Zurich), Arnaldo Camuffo and Kerstin Neumann (both Bocconi University) 19 papers were accepted for presentation. Moreover, we will be organzing a joint panel discussing together with the subtheme on “Responsible Leadership” on the role of corporate leaders in driving sustainable change in organziations and society.
Inspired by the central theme of the World Expo in Milan, the 14th Annual Colloquium of the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) has the topic: Global Sustainability Strategy: New models and approaches to achieve sustainable living.
The event will take place at Bocconi University in Milan form October 20th to 21st, 2015.
The call for contributions is still open until May 16th, 2015.
We are happy to announce that our proposal for a subtheme entitled “Innovating towards Sustainable Organizations: The Role of Power and Stakeholder Expectations” has been accepted for EGOS 2016 in Naples. We invite short paper submissions as soon as the submission system will be open (for more information see please click here)