News of natural disasters, the activism of Greta Thunberg and the UK government’s commitment to reduce carbon to net zero by 2020 have brought sustainability to the forefront of public attention, but how can businesses play their part?
Professor Smart, along with co-authors Dr Rosina Watson, Professor Hugh N. Wilson, and Emma K. Macdonald from Warwick Business School, explore this in their paper Harnessing Difference: A Capability-Based Framework for Stakeholder Engagement in Environmental Innovation.
The paper suggests that businesses can engage better with external stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, government, civil society and NGOs if they develop capabilities to ‘harness difference’ in their world views, to support environmental sustainability. This allows them to seek out alternative futures that can help solve complex societal and global challenges.
The research involved a systematic review of 88 scientific papers to produce a framework of capabilities that include:
- Value framing capabilities
- Systematized learning capabilities
- Integrative capabilities
Building these capabilities in a collaborative tri-sector context can aid the adoption of new products, processes and business models that are also more environmentally sustainable.
Professor Palie Smart said “It’s a great honour to receive the JPIM prize for our research on environmental innovation. As Head of the newly forming School of Management at the University of Bristol, it’s my mission to embed sustainability into our curriculum to educate and challenge our students on their path to becoming socially responsible leaders and managers. Sustainability is a research priority for our school and it’s our ambition to continue to make a positive impact through our research outputs and engagement with industry.”