How can stakeholders in a sustainable system work together in a positive feedback loop?
Sustainable Business
Michael Lenox and Tate Moeller discuss how multiple parties in a broad economic system can work together collaboratively to drive sustainable technology and changes.
 
Tate Moeller (00:10):
The book as a whole is very clearly outlining different ways that these stakeholder groups can get involved and do their part to foster growth and sustainability. Can you speak a little bit about how create collaboration between these groups that can foster that growth and a positive feedback loop and what kind of interactions are needed? Who should go first: policy first and then industry, or industry first, or consumers and their behavior?
 
Michael Lenox (00:39):
At the end of the day, the economic system is a system. As such, it’s a large complex system. What we would call the institutional envelope – everything from public policy, the involvement of nonprofits, activists, consumer groups – they’re all part of that system and have an influence on how that system functions and how it moves forward. I think there’s numerous opportunities for public policy or for others to step in and help shape the evolution of that economic system. It’s challenging when it comes to innovation. For example, I think there’s widespread agreement that very directed narrowing of the exploration of the opportunity set is not a great way to pursue innovation. Innovation is all about exploration and trying new things. What we’re almost talking about is how do you nudge the system forward to pursue those sustainable technologies that we’d like to see from a societal perspective? And that can be everything from subsidizing R&D, especially more basic R&D and our universities or national labs to help generate the new technology. On the consumer side, how do we create more transparencies of consumers who do value these issues to have understanding of which products and services deliver on those? There’s literally thousands of potential levers that one can pull to try to advance that system forward. Now, unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any silver bullet either. I don’t think there’s kind of one thing. If we did this, this would make everything move forward. It’s a balancing act at the end of the day. And I think it’s really important to think about the broad set of stakeholders and how they each can have an influence on this economic system moving forward.
 
Lenox is the Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration, Senior Associate Dean, and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
 
Moeller is the Director of Sustainability Solutions at Minneapolis-based 2DegreesCooler™.

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