Scholars from universities around the world gathered at Ivey’s Spencer Leadership Centre April 14-16 for Ivey’s first academic Sustainability Conference.
The event, led by Ivey Assistant Professor Mike Valente and sponsored by the Beryl M. Ivey Fund, brought together more than a dozen faculty members to discuss how businesses can play leading roles in response to systemic problems.
Entitled, Theorizing Organizational Responses to Systemic Problems, the conference included sessions on topics such as complexity, market-based approaches, and strategies in relation to systemic problems.
In a session on strategies for systemic problem response, Mike Barnett, a Professor with Saïd Business School at University of Oxford, discussed the factors that might help managers to persevere in improving practices.
“Firms may not receive the feedback necessary to sustain their efforts to tackle social problems and firms may not know how to tackle the information when they receive it,” he said. “We may need to bring government back in or firms may need to hire decision-making specialists to help with this.”
Dror Etzion, an Assistant Professor with the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, discussed the benefits of robust action when dealing with large-scale complex issues, which are often coined “wicked” problems.
“Rational planning only works for the short term,” he said. “Robust action is the way to go because it is focused on mobilizing people for collective action and keeping a lot of options open…It’s not about direct pursuit of an ultimate goal, but setting yourself up for action.”
For more information on the conference, please see Ivey Sustainability Conference.
Photos below: Mike Barnett of University of Oxford; scholars at the conference