Historically, environmental and social issues have been treated as peripheral concerns or additional costs for business organizations that were often driven by regulation. However, over the last two decades any perceived separation between social and environmental issues, and financial performance is breaking down. Markets now take environmental and social investments and performance into account. More specifically, customer, investors, and the public are increasingly asking not only what product or service is being offered, but also how it is done, and whether business can satisfy multi-faceted performance expectations. For example, environmental and social pressures include supplier working conditions, carbon footprinting, Fair Trade and environmental stewardship, to name just a few.
In a nutshell, for corporate managers, sustainable development focuses on the inter-relationships between financial, social and environmental performance. Many companies are now actively seeking to pull these three together under a competitive strategy that captures the so called “triple bottom line.” This multi-dimensional conceptualization of performance opens avenues to new customers and can transform traditional industries. Global firms are increasingly being redefined by their ecological performance, and markets are rewarding those who develop green products and services, factor in social needs along the supply chain, and balance multiple objectives. Customers also must sort through confusing claims, and can punish those who appear to pay only lip service or misrepresent their sustainability initiatives. Changing environmental and social expectations encourage both incremental and radical innovations – not just within the product or process, but also in strategies, business models, supply chains and industry partnerships.
Competitive advantage can be rooted in new capabilities related to the triple bottom line. Taking the general perspective of managers, we will confront difficult challenges, scientific uncertainty, and new opportunities. Overall, the course is designed to deepen your understanding of value creation, value delivery and value capture that remain central to business administration; to map a number of the complex and evolving interactions between business and society along the supply chain; and to delve into promising sources of improved competitiveness. To do so, our sessions focus on strategic, marketing and operational aspects, thereby enabling managers to:
- explore how markets respond to environmental and social concerns, and how businesses might do better by doing good;
- apply conceptual frameworks and toolkits to evaluate environmental and social performance; and,
- develop a competitive advantage in an era of where the triple bottom line is increasingly important.