GOLDEN for Academics

GOLDEN’s ambition:

The overarching research question that guides the GOLDEN program is how companies learn to change towards more sustainable enterprise models.

  • Establishing a global research community interested in investigating sustainability-driven change of business organizations, their individual members and of the institutional, multi-stakeholder system the organizations are embedded in;
  • Developing the first global, longitudinal data platform on strategic corporate sustainability change initiatives and their impacts;
  • Co-develop and implement, following an engaged scholarship approach, scientifically rigorous experimental interventions to integrate sustainable enterprise at all levels of the business model, i.e. at the organization’s structures, processes and systems, but also at its culture, values, as well as in the individual traits of decision makers;
  • Engaged in multi-stakeholder dialogues on the evolution of industry eco-systems towards sustainable growth paths.

What is unique about GOLDEN?

The research approach of GOLDEN is characterized by two main principles:


Accordingly, GOLDEN’s research work is organized as follows:


In more detail, GOLDEN researchers work in four inter-related activities:

  1. The Global Observatory

“The Observatory” is a collection of sustainability related initiatives of companies around the world and across industries. Although it includes company-wide data, its distinctive focus is on initiatives that a company sees as both important for sustainability and its business strategy. The Observatory provides the basis for the assessment of the relative effectiveness of past sustainability-driven initiatives, and the maturity of a company’s sustainability strategy.

  1. Case Histories on Sustainability Initiatives (Clinical Research)

Whereas the observatory provides the assessment of the external sustainability impact of companies, the case histories complement that by providing an internal assessment of the status quo of the sustainability integration within the company’s processes, structures (both at the organizational, functional and business unit level), organizational traits and the individual managers’ mindsets.

The research protocol, which is implemented in the case study companies serves two main goals: (1) it provides the baseline assessment for any experimental intervention research (see below) to follow, and (2) it allows to develop a stand alone case study as well as comparative studies to understand sustainability integration at different levels of the business organization.

  1. Experimental studies

As GOLDEN aims to understand HOW companies change towards a more sustainable enterprise model, the experimental design approach is at the core of the research program. Both, field and lab experimental studies are carried out at three different levels:

(1) The Decision Makers Experiments to implement interventions on the individual level to develop mindsets, behavior and skills for sustainable change and management;

(2) The Enterprise Experiments to develop and implement sustainability initiatives aimed at changing processes and structures (functional, group, organizational level); and

(3) The Ecosystems Experiments to develop large system change initiatives with the aim to speed up the establishment of structures needed for sustainable enterprise.

  1. Multi-level Simulations

Simulation modeling (e.g. agent-based modeling, system-dynamics approaches) supports the experimental work as with the help of these techniques the impact of planned interventions can be better understood ex ante, for example in a longer time horizon or by assuming different, plausible environmental conditions. Moreover, simulation techniques are applied in those areas where field or lab experiments are difficult to implement. Thus, they will support insightful conversation in the labs and provide guidance in setting policies and intervention priorities for businesses and institutions.

For more information please contact: Frank Brueck, Managing Director,

FAQs for Researchers and Research Centers (RCs)

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