Making Strategy: Sustainability and the Ethics of ResponsibilityFriday, July 3, 2015, 11:00–12:30
Chair of Foundations of Business Administration and Theories of the Firm
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Andreas Georg Scherer holds the Chair of Foundations of Business Administration and Theories of the Firm at the University of Zurich (Switzerland). His research interests are in Business Ethics, Critical Theory, International Management, Organization Theory, and Philosophy of Science.
He has published nine books. His work has appeared in Academy of Management Review, Business Ethics Quarterly, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Management Studies, Organization, Organization Studies, and in numerous volumes and other journals. He is an associate editor of Business Ethics Quarterly and member of the editorial boards of Journal of Management Studies, Organization, and Organization Studies.
Professor of Sustainability, Management and Climate Change
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), The Netherlands
Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior
Warwick Business School, UK
Juliane Reinecke is a Fellow at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, and Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Innovation, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, from where she received her PhD.
Her research interests include global governance in supply chains and sustainability standardization, focusing on how organizational and political processes shape notions of ethics, fairness and responsibility.
Professor of Organization and Management
Aalto University School of Business, Finland
Eero Vaara is a Professor of Organization and Management at Aalto University School of Business, a Permanent Visiting Professor at EMLYON Business School, and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Lancaster University, UK. His research interests focus on organizational, strategic and institutional change, strategic practices and processes, multinational corporations and globalization, management history, management education, and methodological issues in organization and management research. He has worked especially on discursive and narratives approaches.
Earth’s life support system is facing mega-problems of sustainability. One important way of how these problems can be addressed
is through innovation. Responsible innovation consists of three dimensions: (1) innovations avoid harming people and the planet,
(2) innovations ‘do good’ by offering new products, services or technologies that foster sustainable development (SD), and
(3) global governance schemes that facilitate innovations avoid harm and ‘do good’. The role of global governance schemes,
however, has not yet been sufficiently addressed. Therefore, we explore their role as a means to contribute to responsible
innovation and to support SD. These schemes can provide voluntary soft-law regulations that complement and extend hard-law
regulations and facilitate collective innovation. We address the nurturing role of governments and international organizations
in orchestrating global governance schemes and offer an illustrative example.
For the past twenty years, organizational scholars have recognized that companies have powerful impacts across social, ecological
and economic processes. Indeed, one may argue that organizational attention to sustainability has never been higher – both
in terms of the amount of scholarly research conducted and the amount of civic and private sector attention paid to social
and environmental issues.
Despite all the attention, sustainability “problems” and “solutions” are hard to delineate using simple input-output variance models. Importantly, climate change is only one of the many processes that the Earth depends upon to generate a safe operating space for humanity, all of which are undergoing rapid change. Recent estimates suggest that ecological processes affecting food security, land, atmosphere, water, biodiversity, climate, etc. are approaching critical threshold levels which collectively threaten the safe operating space for humanity. In addition, social issues such as hunger, poverty, growing unemployment, and the continuing lack of basic human needs and rights are intertwined with ecological pressures. Collectively these dynamics threaten the viability of human societies on a planetary scale.
In this presentation, I will discuss and reflect upon a real-world experiment in collective corporate strategizing to scale up business solutions for sustainability – called Action2020 – and led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Through this example, I identify key ways in which our field can increase our contribution to real-world action, and end with a call to action.
Reflecting on the EGOS 2015 theme of “Organizations and the Examined Life”, this talk explores the politically and morally contested nature of sustainability and responsibility. This motivates inquiry into the emergence of global rule-making in the realm of ethical deliberation, and moves the focus to how definitions of what it means to be sustainable and responsible are constructed and organized in a global context. Multiple actors involved in governance do not only compete on the meanings and definitions in a marketplace for sustainable and responsible solutions, but ethical deliberation itself sits uneasily in between universal reasoning and contextual judgment and between Eastern and Western worldviews.