Although many companies consider sustainability aspects in their innovation strategy, it seems that sustainability is far from being an integral part of innovation management, observes Claus Lang-Koetz. This track at the 2020 R&D Management Conference addresses the role of sustainability-oriented innovation in R&D management – from a theoretical but also a practical perspective.
What do you think are the most disruptive influences impacting developments in your track?
The drive for a sustainable development is becoming stronger: There is an increasing environmental awareness in society, and people see the urgent need to tackle climate change and the effect of pollution in nature. Political demands in the “Fridays for Future“ initiative become more influential and the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) are being considered actively by more and more companies. This also has a strong influence on companies and their activities for innovation
Can you describe some recent findings in this area that are of interest to you personally?
It is interesting to see that the term sustainable innovation or sustainability-oriented innovation is increasingly used in research, but also in the industry. Current research has shown that pursuing sustainability-oriented innovations requires a special approach; there is a need for dedicated frameworks, methods, tools and forms of organization.
I recently conducted a survey with a co-worker among German industry, It shows that while a large share of companies consider sustainability aspects in the goals established in their innovation strategy, it seems that sustainability is far from being an integral part of innovation management. There seems to be the need to clarify what sustainability means for innovation management inside of the companies, to formalise the topic by specifying goals, determining assessment criteria and to strengthen the interlinkage between sustainability and innovation management.
Another need addressed by a majority of participants is the interaction with customers on the relevance and benefits of sustainability.
This is just one perspective on the topic – but a good basis for the discussion in our track at the R&D Management Conference!
If someone was new to this topic what would you suggest they read to get a quick overview of the issues?
There are many papers to recommend. However, I found the analysis in the following paper appealing:
Gaziulusoy, A.I. (2015), “A critical review of approaches available for design and innovation teams through the perspective of sustainability science and system innovation theories”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 107, pp. 366–377.
Enabling sustainability-oriented innovation in R&D management: Organization, frameworks, methods and tools is one of the tracks at the 2020 R&D Management Conference being held at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, from 27 June-1 July – see more information here.
Track chair: Claus Lang-Koetz, Professor for Sustainable Technology and Innovation Management at the Institute for Industrial Ecology at Pforzheim University (Germany). Visit his Twitter profile here.