Leadership for sustainability

Cranfield Emeritus Professor David Grayson authored All In: The Future of Business Leadership which defines the essential attributes of high-impact corporate sustainability leadership book. Insights from this book have helped to shape the development of a new ‘Leading Sustainable Organisations’ module for Cranfield MBA students.

Partnership for sustainability

Dr Rosina Watson’s work supports SGD 17 by looking at partnerships for sustainability. Her paper, nominated as the Best 2018 Paper in the Journal of Product Innovation Management, found that companies looking to successfully involve their stakeholders in sustainability-oriented innovation need to be able to see things from their partner’s perspective and bring the learning from the partnership back into their own organisation.

Collaboration and partnerships represent a key theme in Cranfield’s teaching on corporate sustainability.

Sustainable and social entrepreneurship

Cranfield participated in the EU-InnovatE project which investigated the roles of users and entrepreneurs in shaping sustainable lifestyles. Cranfield partnered with Globescan to host an innovative online conference ‘attended’ by 150 entrepreneurs, policy makers and academics who contributed their ideas about how policy can be used to encourage sustainable entrepreneurship Recommendations developed from participant insights were shared with EU policy makers at a round table meeting in Brussels and were further ‘road-tested’ with entrepreneurs and policy makers at a conference. View the full EU report.

In another part of this project, Professor Liz Varga and her team developed an agent based model which can be used to model and assess the relative effectiveness of different possible sustainability-oriented innovations, if adopted across households in a selected geographical area (e.g. electric cars in France). The model is open access and can be used by entrepreneurs and policymakers who need a way to evaluate and communicate the potential impact of their innovations at scale. Find out more.

Marketing and consumer behaviour and sustainability

Businesses often need the help of consumers in achieving their social and environmental sustainability goals. Professors Hugh Wilson and Emma Macdonald and their PhD students have published impactful work exploring what techniques work best for nudging them. at the interface of marketing and sustainability. A Harvard Business Review paper challenges marketers to consider the powerful role that social identify can play in consumer behaviour – with particular relevance to encouraging sustainable behaviour. A Psychology & Marketing paper examines the influence of customers’ personal standards on online shopping behaviours, finding that activating pride in standards met elicits sustainable behaviours more effectively than activating guilt when customer’s fall short of their standards. This research informs the teaching of sustainable marketing across Masters and MBA programmes.

At the same time, many firms are defining a higher purpose that relates to society's social and environmental goals. Making that purpose a reality is a massive challenge. We therefore welcome research exploring what marketing practice should look like in a purpose-led organisation.

Shareholder activism

Gary Cundhill’s work explores how shareholders have become increasingly active in endeavouring to influence companies’ environmental and social practices.

Teaching and Learning Guide

Find out more.