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Thought in Action at the Erb Institute
Students explore links between an organization’s culture and sustainability efforts
Culture counts when it comes to corporate sustainability, Liz Abbett, Anna Coldham and Ryan Whisnant, all Erb ‘10, wrote in their master’s project titled “Organizational culture and the success of corporate sustainability initiatives: An empirical analysis using the Competing Values Framework.”
The students gathered data from 23 companies in multiple industries using the Organization Culture Assessment Instrument, a diagnostic tool rooted in the Competing Values Framework developed by Ross School Professor Kim Cameron. He and The Erb Institute Associate Director Andrew Hoffman advised the students. The students’ goal: To understand the relationship between company culture and the success of its sustainability initiatives, and the role collaboration plays in their success. Companies are learning that environmental sustainability offers competitive opportunities, improves efficiency and opens up new markets, the students concluded.
Job responsibilities for chief sustainability officers vary by company, The Erb Institute Director Thomas Lyon notes in an article titled “ Corporate Outlook: Does Every Major Company Need a Chief Sustainability Officer?” in the April issue of Sustainability magazine. CSOs tend to be heavily involved in outreach to stakeholders, government officials and nongovernmental organizations. Many also inherit the traditional environmental, health and safety function, Lyon says.
Because the CSO role is relatively new, the candidate pool is fairly small, according to sources quoted in the article. The Erb Institute has been graduating students trained to address sustainability issues since 1995. Instead of a degree containing the word “sustainability,” Erb graduates earn an MBA and an MS degree in natural resources and the environment.
READ MORE: Does every major comp any need a chief CSO?
The Erb Institute Managing Director Rick Bunch says corporate sustainability has become a baseline expectation of a growing number of consumers in an interview with Business Review USA magazine, published by Notre Dame University. In the August article titled “The New MBA: Creating Effective Business Leaders,” Bunch explains how The Institute prepares graduates to meet this challenge.