Institute for Leadership and Organization

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Sustainable Innovation

Given the increasing societal challenges of our time such as climate change, environmental degradation, resource exploitation, and related social inequalities, business is increasingly required to take responsibility for its social and environmental impacts. Nevertheless, growing efforts on part of single organizations seem not yet sufficient to tackle our global ‘grand challenges’ as mentioned above. A growing literature body adopts a multilevel perspective on innovation – aimed at inducing long-term systemic transitions towards more sustainable modes of production and consumption. Herein, innovation is not only evaluated based on its economic potential, but also on its environmental and social impacts. Conceptualized in different theoretical approaches such as social innovation or system innovation, these involve typically the collaboration but also confrontation of multiple actors from the public, private and plural sector.

As a leading force for innovation, business plays a crucial role in this. Nevertheless, despite present technological and financial possibilities, moving towards a more sustainable approach to innovation is often inhibited by organizational dynamics, as taken-for-granted norms, values and practices are disrupted. For businesses to successfully engage in and manage transitions towards sustainable development through innovation, it is important to understand these dynamics and mechanisms of legitimation processes within and beyond organizations.


Illustrative research interests:

  • What role can organizations play in sustainable development?
  • What organizational dynamics are present in legitimation processes for sustainable change?
  • How do cross-sector collaborations for sustainable innovation work?
  • How does organizational action shape its institutional environment?
  • How is rhetoric/language used in legitimation strategies?

We are open to collaborate with industry and regularly evaluate projects based on state-of-the-art quantitative and qualitative research methods.

If you are interested in our research area “Sustainable innovation“, please get in touch with us and contact Laura Deichl (deichl(at); 089-2180-9546).