Review GOLDEN SnO Workshop 2015

GOLDEN SnO Workshop Paris, May 2015

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For the first time GOLDEN  and the Center for research on Society and Organization at HEC Paris co-organised a workshop.The event with about 90 participants was designed to stimulate intensive discussions between business, academia and institutions involved in the change process of business towards sustainable enterprise models.

Business-Academia Dialogues


Presentation by Agata Ramallo, Nike Inc., USA

In these dialogues business representatives and academics reflected on the integration of sustainability in specific areas of business. It turned out that the perception of the state of the art and  the necessary next actions to accelerated sustainable developments did not differ greatly between the two groups.

The dialogues started with Agata Ramallo, Global Sustainability CoE, of NIKE Inc. providing insights into the integration of sustainability in strategic decision making processes at Nike. Ms. Ramallo discussed the implications on business and the next important steps towards deeper integration of sustainability in business processes with Lucca Berchicci, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Maurizio Zollo, Academic Director GOLDEN.

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Presentation by J.-C. Laugee, Danone, France

Jean-Christophe Laugee, Director Ecosystem Fund, DANONE and Frederic Dalsace, HEC Paris, reflected on the difficult assessment of social impact of sustainability initiatives. M. Laugee reported of his experiences with such assessments in sustainability initiatives of Danone and the complexity of the approaches used.


Presentation by Geraldine Vallejo, Kering

The session on the integration of sustainability in the supply chain was split two. One pair consisting of Vanessa Otto-Mentz, Head of Group Strategy Unit at Santam and Franz Wohlgezogen, Bocconi University Italy, reviewed a research project currently ongoing with Santam, a South African insurance company, to introduce sustainable principles in the Motor Body Repair supply chain. Afterwards Geraldine Vallejo, Sustainability Program Director at KERING discussed the Environmental Profit and Loss Account system Kering developed for Puma together with Anthony Goerzen from the Queens School of Business in Kingston, Canada.

The dialogue sessions were followed by parallel group discussion working on the development of a common agenda between business and academia in the discussed areas.

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Anthony Goerzen

Anthony Goerzen, Queens School of Business, Canada

After a poster session where researchers from GOLDEN and SnO presented their latest projects in the context of business and sustainability (list of presentations) the business-academia dialogues were continued with Ralph Pfitzner, VP Sustainability, SIEMENS AG and Tomasz Obloj, HEC Paris, presenting their views on strategies to integrate sustainability into the governance of a company.

On the topic of HR and employment Tamera Campbell, yellowwoods, South Africa presented valuable insights in an employment initiative called Harambee generating employment for disadvantaged South African youths. Michael Müller-Camen, WU Vienna, reflected on the general links between HR and sustainability.

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Plenary discussions

The last dialogue focussed on integrated reporting – a topic rapidly gaining importance both in business and academia – with contributions by Patrick d’Humières, Institut RSE, France and Paolo Perego, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Intensive discussions in small groups and the plenary dealt with the learnings and resulting actions from these dialogues.

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The second day of the workshop was organized around two panel discussions on the sustainability issue of renewable energy on the one hand and the integration of the work of international institution, national governments, business and academia on the other hand.

SnO Research Center & G.O.L.D.E.N for Sustainability. Towards a sustainable economy. In the presence of Ambassador Giandomenico Magliano, Italian Ambassador to France.

Panel Discussion

The first panel on The Challenges to 100% Renewable Energy – Realistic Target or Just Wishful Thinking moderated by Andrea Masini, HEC Paris, provided insights into the topic from three different positions: Fabio Mondini de Focatiis, Senior VP Solar Business, SOITEC presented the dynamic development of technological solutions, Julien Perez, Project Director, Climate/Energy at TOTAL highlighted the strong existing focus on renewables in a traditional energy company, and Christophe Poline, Energy Access Capital Fund, SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC, introduced the efforts currently applied to provide access to electricity on the African Continent by use of solar power.

SnO Research Center & G.O.L.D.E.N for Sustainability. Towards a sustainable economy. In the presence of Ambassador Giandomenico Magliano, Italian Ambassador to France.

Giandomenico Magliano, Italian Ambassador to France

The second panel moderated by Betrand Quelin, HEC Paris, on the Collaboration Among Business, Academia and Institutions Towards the Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals took place under the hospices and with the participation of the Italian Ambassador to France, Giandomenico Magliano and the French Ambassador-at-large for Bioethics and CSR, Marine de Carné-Trécesson. The Ambassadors and the other panel participants from UNEP (Elisa Tonda, Sustainable Lifestyles, Cities and Industry Branch), OECD (Hilkka Komulainen, Investment Division), and the French Treasury Ministry (Frederic Bobay, Private-Public Partnerships) agreed that it would be most relevant to engage more closely with academia particularly in the area of measurements and in the development of the business case for sustainable business. Mustapha Mokass, Founder, BEYA CAPITAL, presented the funding landscape and existing opportunities to support initiatives on sustainable business in developing countries.

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Download area for workshop presentations:

Supply Chain Paris Goerzen

Supply Chains Wohlgezogen

Governance Thomas Streiff


Tonda Elisa UNEP slide presentation

Funding Sustainability Projects Mokass Mustapha


 - 06/29/2015

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.

Sustainability Strategies as Indicators for Corporate Success

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.

For more information on this project please contact Maurizio Zollo or Peter Snoeren.

GOLDEN Paper accepted in Journal of Change Management

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.

For more information see the program of the subtheme please click here or contact Kerstin Neumann.

 - 05/11/2015

GOLDEN Related Track at EGOS 2016

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)

Up-Coming Event

Annual GOLDEN Workshop in Cooperation with SnO

This year’s GOLDEN Annual Workshop with the title: TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY, Business-Academia-Institutions in Action

is organized in cooperation with the Research Centre for Society and Organizations (SnO) at HEC Paris on May 26th and 27th in Paris, France:

As you can see from the Workshop Agenda (click here), the workshop provides a platform for in-depth business-academia-institutions dialogues on topics related to sustainability. The first day is devoted to highlighting and bridging the different views and needs of managers and academics. On the second day we will include the positions of organizations with vital interests in different aspects of sustainability.

The workshop is free of charge. Please register here before May 20th, 2015. On the registration webpage you will also find useful information on accommodation and transportation.

For more information on the GOLDEN Annual Workshop please contact Frank Brueck.

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