FAQs for Corporations, Researchers and Research Centers
GOLDEN’s developers believe that the time is right for this ambitious undertaking. This hypothesis arises from the following observations and beliefs:
(1) Networks of academics and their research centers partnering with businesses have been forming to address the sustainability imperative, recognizing that they are a source of the problem and must themselves be agents of developing the solution. These provide important building blocks for GOLDEN.
(2) To date, action has focused largely on becoming proactive in protecting reputation and other risks, and operational efficiencies with cost and materials reduction. Leading firms are now focusing more on innovation in products and services, and we foresee that the coming emphasis will be on innovation in the very way enterprises build and configure their social, financial, intellectual and cultural capital.
(3) GOLDEN has developed tools, methodologies, knowledge and skills to a point where it is ready to deploy them in various contexts in cooperation with companies and other institutions in mutually beneficial way.
(4) There is an increased level of appreciation of possibilities and the need for change by others (including ecosystem participants and funders) for innovative change strategies; and
(5) The needs for this scale of ambition and effort are recognized as pressing (evidenced by issues such as climate change, food security and financial crises).
GOLDEN provides an academic researcher led, but stakeholder co-owned platform to galvanize and sustain informed internal, individual company action, and action with others to realize sustainable enterprise as the business norm. This means it must produce outcomes valued by all stakeholders:
Through its uniquely comprehensive set of activities to address individual, enterprise and industry change, with GOLDEN firms:
For researchers and research centers
Knowledge generation represented by publications, presentations and new curricula requires rigorously collected and validated data. GOLDEN’s data is distinguished by its geographic scope (global), its industry scope, its type of enterprise (initially publicly held corporations, then expanding), and its longitudinal vision. There are two ways GOLDEN as a data platform can be useful for individual researchers. One is with the data that is collected from all participating firms and Labs, as part of their Observatory commitment. This will provide data for a wide range of testable propositions about issues as varied as sensing and sense-making, search and selection, experimentation and scaling up, learning, strategizing, organizing, relational qualities, capabilities, and individual and organizational identity.
In addition, while collecting the common data, the researcher may gather data on associated questions they consider important. These can be individually held emerging initiatives, or ones that can be developed by a group whose formation is facilitated through the GOLDEN community.
For The Broader Sustainability and Corporate Change Community
GOLDEN honors the efforts of many who are working with missions of corporate sustainability. We believe that the focus on the how to develop sustainability, as well as its scale and academic roots make an important addition to the efforts of others. We work collaboratively with others to identify ways we can support others to be even more successful in reaching their goals and those of GOLDEN at the same time.
For the public good
We are at a critical turning point in our planetary evolution that presents both huge opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, we can see potential dark futures if we do not resolve challenges associated with issues that business has a critical role in, such as climate change, environmental degradation, disease, war, poverty, inequality and global decision-making. On the other hand, we can see potential futures with business developing unparalleled opportunities for wealth, health, peace and prosperity. GOLDEN’s integrated activities can make a critical addition to strengthening the second scenario.
The word “experiment” is used very differently by different people. For example, business people are undertaking innovative actions in novel situations that are popularly referred to as “experiments”. Scientists use the word to emphasize particular characteristics of their actions that include:
GOLDEN analytically, organizationally and strategically distinguishes between experiments at the individual, organizational and ecosystems levels. This reflects the understanding that transformation to sustainable enterprise requires change in:
The distinction also reflects the distinctive questions, methods and strategies that arise at each level. However, although the distinction between the three levels is important and operationally useful, in fact an experiment may well take place across more than one level. One common tool for doing this with experiments involves “control groups”, where one actor (person, organization, community) experiences an intervention and the other does not.
Labs are like laboratories in that they involve active exploration and experimentation with emerging responses to identified issues and opportunities to advance business sustainability. Usually Labs are associated with the natural sciences, but there have been significant experiments at the societal level associated often with concepts of “multi-stakeholder collaboration.”
There are three simple steps in the GOLDEN Labs, reflecting the classic learning cycle and represented in the figure below. The first step is a baseline assessment that includes analysis of current organizational structures, trends and issues and the interactions amongst stakeholders to validate and refine them. This cycle works on individual, organizational and ecosystems level.
For the enterprise level, this assessment involves analysis using an evolving protocol incorporating various methodologies. For Ecosystems Labs, the assessment is comprised of social structure analysis and trends , usually these interactions include one or more “convening” meetings. These assessments themselves produce valuable outcomes in terms of tailored corporate reports for the enterprise level and more comprehensive system perspectives and relationships for the ecosystems.
Figure 2: The Action Cycle.
The assessments help identify strategic innovations, but sometimes corporations may have already identified one for an Enterprise Lab. These experiments are accompanied by rigorous analysis and documentation culminating in the third step that is a thorough impact assessment. This provides a basis for identifying what worked and how to make improvements, and to optionally undertake another cycle of experiments.
By “ecosystems” GOLDEN means an industry or geographic ecosystem. It includes all the stakeholders in an industry, or at a more local level all the stakeholders in a particular geographic region where a business operates. Therefore this includes suppliers, citizens, governments, NGOs and customers. The focus here is on transformation of markets, public policies and operating environments.
Any experiment will only involve a sub-set of a whole industry ecosystem. Reflecting GOLDEN’s strategy to work with current initiatives. Companies involved in the initiative would essentially be a sub-system of the global industry ecosystem
FAQs for Corporations
The most important factors distinguishing GOLDEN from other sustainability initiatives are …
Emphasizing innovation and strategy
Neutral space for experimentation
Knowledge leadership for you
Enhancing sustainable business models
We provide a unique, neutral space where diverse stakeholders can work together in an objective, sensitive environment grounded in principles of respect and honoring confidentiality. This is the most cost-effective way to develop creative, innovative interventions with scientific support.
There are multiple ways to engage with GOLDEN to enhance your sustainability strategy. Choose the Package that best suits the development of a comprehensive sustainability strategy in your company. In order to realize the full benefits of GOLDEN we recommend going through the sequences of both consecutive phases we have prepared for you.
Joining the Observatory action will enable us to provide you with:
The tools deployed in the context of the observatory are archival data analysis, interviews and a survey.
Moreover the observatory can be useful as a due diligence tool.
In this context GOLDEN applies its research logic of
MEASURE -> STRATEGIZE -> EXPERIMENT
The basic measurements will be done with the observatory tools. Following that
Improve the sustainability awareness of your employees by joining GOLDEN’s experiments on the individual level involving neuro-science measurements and awareness assessments.
Joining GOLDEN’s activities on the ecosystems level will enable the individual company to develop a better understanding of the dynamics in an industry or ecosystem. Results from these activities will deepen the knowledge base of a company to enable informed pro-active interventions securing a strategic advantage.
Improve the sustainability awareness of your employees by joining GOLDEN’s experiments on the individual level involving neuro-science measurements and awareness assessments.
Join the GOLDEN Foundation and support world class research on sustainability.
For information on all these opportunities contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
In consultation and cooperation with you, GOLDEN will:
(1) provide you with the opportunity to engage directly with a network of global thought leaders whose expertise cover the various domains of sustainability;
(2) deliver a confidential assessment of the effectiveness of your sustainability change initiatives;
(3) based on the results of (2) offer a high level workshop to co-develop your company’s Road Map towards Sustainability – a change strategy to master your sustainability challenges;
(4) measure the impacts of at least one experimental change action tailored to tackle one of the strategically relevant sustainability objectives of your firm;
(5) offer the option to organize Crowd Sourcing Contests for particularly difficult sustainability issues in cooperation with the MIT Center of Collective Intelligence;
(6) offer you the option to use our simulation models to estimate the potential impacts of the change initiatives you are considering launching;
(7) develop and (if agreed) publish a case study on your sustainability driven change initiatives in the Sloan Management Review or another prestigious outlet.
Figure 1: The Experimental Labs of GOLDEN
Individual Level Labs
The individual level labs “map” the distance between current managerial mind frames and those that the firm considers aligned with its notion of sustainable enterprise. They then test the effectiveness of several alternative approaches to the learning and personal development challenge, and will utilize the most advanced techniques for assessing their impacts at the behavioral, psychological and neurological level (through EEG and fMRI technologies) to assess change as objectively as possible. This will allow companies to learn how to effectively develop the mindset and consequent behaviors and skills consistent with the requirements of what they consider sustainable enterprise models within the industry and regional contexts where the firm acts.
Organizational Level Labs
The organizational level research labs are designed around individual companies, to observe, and at the same time accelerate, their initiatives to embed sustainability in their strategies, systems or activities. Following the identification of a strategically important sustainability challenge, scholars work with executives to (a) identify alternative initiatives to tackle the sustainability issue/opportunity, (b) develop a system of impact measures to assess the economic, social and environmental outcomes of the different initiatives and (c) work out the research design, the organizational and logistic issues to ensure a scientifically rigorous and managerially insightful execution.
After pre-intervention (baseline) measurement, the alternative change approaches are deployed to participating units or teams. When these interventions end, post-measurements are carried out, analyses performed and a confidential report highlighting the results, the potential explanations and recommendations for future steps, are produced for senior management. If mutually agreed, a case study is written for publication in a managerial review. No scientific report will identify the company unless formally approved.
Examples of such experimental designs include, but are not limited to:
We invite donations to support GOLDEN’s depending on which activities you would like to be engaged in.
Donations for the Observatory would normally range from 15.000 to 25.000 Euros.
Donations for the development and deployment of experiments usually start from 40.000 Euros.
The development of individual awareness research activities is mostly sponsored with amounts from 20.000 Euros.
Ecosystems research involves a broad spectrum of stakeholders and will usually involve donations from 50.000 Euros.
Sponsorship related to general support of the GOLDEN network is welcome in any hight.
The definition of “sustainable enterprise” is treated as evolving in response to new knowledge and possibilities, after all, there is no business of significant size today that is considered “sustainable”. However, we know that one has to address “how” sub-questions of GOLDEN’s over-arching “how” question, including:
GOLDEN made the principle of Engaged Scholarship (ES), pioneered by Andrew Van de Ven (2007), a central pillar of its work. ES stresses the importance of meaningful participation of both researchers and corporate employees in research projects to ensure mutual value and relevance.
ES also emphasizes the importance of diverse perspectives – across disciplines for researchers, across functional lines for corporate participants, and across stakeholder groups for all. It does not hold that there is a “single truth,” but rather encompasses multiple perspectives simultaneously. By “stepping outside of themselves” and using engaged forms of scholarship, people can create innovative and productive ways to build the emerging business model of sustainable value creation. The process is not simply about understanding “what is;” it is also about creating “what can be” beyond our individual, partial, perspectives. Nevertheless, rigor and discipline as well as validity and relevance are key ES concepts, ensuring that the methodologies associated with GOLDEN will be scientifically valid as well as managerially impactful.
Andrew Van de Ven at a GOLDEN community workshop in Vienna in June 2011.
GOLDEN guarantees a maximum amount of confidentiality. All data collected is sanitized of company identity and any recognizable feature before it is analyzed in the Observatory or Multi-level simulations.
The success of field experiments at the individual, company and eco-system levels will leverage other important assets, developed through specific research initiatives. The first one has to do with the Global Observatory on the Evolution of Sustainable Enterprise, or “the Observatory” for short. GOLDEN is creating the first global repository of data on sustainability-driven strategic initiatives. Moreover, it differs from the social rating agencies’ assessments on firms’ ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance, in that it focuses on the single initiatives launched by companies. The observatory will map the evolution of sustainability practices across industries and across regions.
Furthermore, GOLDEN scholars are currently developing computer simulations to study the processes through which individuals, groups, organizations and eco-systems generate ideas and initiatives to change their behavior and enhance the economic, social and environmental impacts of their decisions. These models can leverage the Observatory data, as well as the results of the field experiments, to design and fine-tune the equations that link firm and collective action to sustainability outcomes. In turn, the models will be able to generate evidence-based descriptions of the business and systemic impacts of strategic change decisions, of collective action initiatives and of public policy interventions. They will thus support “what-if” analyses and scenario-building in the context of corporate and eco-system experiments. In due course, these simulations will be able to offer evidence-based and micro-founded guidance to policy-makers at a local, national and international level.
Apart from the most obvious fact that GOLDEN’s work is much more cost-effective than the engagement of consultants, there is a set of other important distinguishing factors:
Although GOLDEN engages with corporations and works with them on the improvement of their innovative change processes, the gathered data and the output of the research processes will produce results which are beneficial for all stakeholders.
The amount of cases examined in GOLDEN simultaneously will enable the development of new innovative ideas, which can be directly tested in experimentation.
Innovative change experiments will accelerate the implementation of new strategies.
By engaging with GOLDEN, a great network of thought leaders in different fields related to sustainability, is at your disposal.
Cooperation with prestigious academic institutions also has positive reputational effects.
The engagement with GOLDEN does not end automatically once a project is finished, the design and constant evolution of the research program offers multiple ways to stay connected with the network.
By using the most advanced technology in terms of computerized simulation-models and by focusing on the overall ecosystems as well, GOLDEN opens much wider perspectives of the effects of strategic decisions
FAQs for Research Centers
A first benefit is to be associated with a most ambitious and comprehensive initiative to develop the knowledge and action necessary to establish sustainable enterprises. It provides a platform for more leading knowledge and methodology development, and for the field of sustainability-related science and sustainable business itself.
Apart from that the amount of data collected could be the basis for a long set of publications, other values for researcher and research centers include:
Value Proposition for Individual Researchers:
Value Proposition for Research Centers:
The input by the researchers largely depends on the activities the he or she wants engage in. Once engaged in a GOLDEN project the following inputs by individual researchers and research centers are expected.
Potential Inputs by Individual Researchers:
Inputs by Research Centers:
We expect that the contribution of RCs will be quite different according to the specializations of researchers working with GOLDEN. The only parts we basically expect all RCs to take part in is the enterprise level with the research handbook and protocol. RCs and their researchers are free to join any other GOLDEN activity they are particularly interested in. For example, involvement in simulations will depend on the availability of a researcher interested in that area. The same is definitely true for the Ecosystem Labs or the Decision Makers Lab. So the set of skill and knowledge determine the involvement and not the other way around.
The only commitment concerns the research activities – no financial (or other) commitment required. The research time should be covered by the financial contribution of the companies involved and/or by funding through grants, etc. The main task for the RCs is to identify interested and available researchers.
The data will flow into one data pool and it is a common good
Yes, with the following process: (1) the researcher who intends to use the data declares ahead of time the paper he or she wants to write, the potential contribution and the type/subset of data that is required to write the paper; (2) every other member of the community will have up to 60 days to declare in writing a similar paper; (3) if the two (or more) agree on co-authoring or splitting the paper, everything is fine, if not the central research advisory board will be asked to produce a suggestion for solving the issue to which everyone agrees.