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GRONEN 2014 : Group of Research on Organizations and the Natural Environment


When Jun 16, 2014 - Jun 18, 2014
Where Helsinki
Submission Deadline Feb 17, 2014
Notification Due Apr 14, 2014
Categories    management   sustainability   organizations   climate change

Call For Papers

Over recent years corporate sustainability has become a nearly mainstream research topic within business schools. While this suggests a positive development, scholars in the field are increasingly asking whether or not corporate responsibility is able to tackle the most critical environmental and social challenges faced by the global society, such as climate change, poverty, depletion of natural resources or growing inequality. The influence and impacts of corporate responsibility on these and other burning societal challenges remains unclear. Recently even business leaders have started to ask whether business schools are able to provide sufficient sustainability capabilities to future leaders (EABIS, 2012).

With the above in mind, Gronen 2014 conference focuses on research of corporate responsibility policies, strategies and activities, as well as the influence and impact of CR with regard to three broad global sustainability challenge areas, namely

Climate change and scarcity of natural resources
Global poverty and inequality
Growth or degrowth – how and for whom?
With regard to the above critical themes the conference welcomes research on questions about how far can today’s corporate responsibility policies and activities take us, and where and how to improve and what are the limits of corporate responsibility. The conference also welcomes contributions that explore the possibilities of new forms of business and entrepreneurship (such as social enterprises, impact entrepreneurship, collaborative entrepreneurship, sustainability entrepreneurship, cooperatives or citizen initiatives) to organize toward more sustainable forms of (economic) activity.

Climate change and scarcity of natural resources

Recent evidence indicates that greenhouse gases keep rising and as a result global warming continues at an alarming speed. At the same time overuse of natural resources poses a threat to biodiversity (e.g. forests), regeneration of resource stocks (e.g. fisheries) or availability of resources (e.g rare metals). Despite these disconcerting trends international negotiations are stagnated and markets do not appear to direct production and consumption to a sustainable track. For instance the global climate negotiations are not proceeding. In Europe the emissions rights are all time low, and fail to redirect the energy sector toward low-carbon alternatives. In the absence of effective legislation and market-based instruments the need of voluntary responsibility of business enterprises is aggravated.

But to what extent can the global society lean on voluntary efforts of corporations? How well are energy and resource problems and their solutions reflected in sustainability policies and activities of corporations? Have the present responsibility practices had a notable impact on energy solutions and resource use by businesses? Could companies lobby for better international regulation in order to promote a level playing field for all? Which enterprises act or could act as frontrunners? Can we observe and explain different dynamics of development in specific industry sectors and regions? What combinations of strategic sustainability innovations of start-ups and changes of responsibility practices of incumbent companies produce sustainability results? What is the role of stakeholder coalitions and networks? Do we need to revisit the theory of the firm?

Global poverty and inequality

The global community is today more prosperous than ever due to economic growth, but the benefits of the growth do not equally reach all. Over a billion people of the world live with less than a euro a day and two thirds of world’s population with less than five euros a day. While monetary figures do not tell us everything, the fact still remains that the majority of people on earth do not have their basic needs fulfilled.

Over the past decade poverty question has made its way to corporate agendas. The business sector is increasingly expected to participate in poverty alleviation solutions. Business enterprises have launched so-called base of the pyramid or inclusive business models, and business studies have begun to explore questions like the role of corporate responsibility with regard to development.

The above mirrors the increasing calls for alternative ways of tackling poverty problems in developing countries and emerging economies. Inclusive business and base of the pyramid (BOP) approaches propose new roles for business enterprises from multinationals to large SMEs, as well as for non-governmental organizations. The inclusive business and BOP literatures suggest that businesses can contribute to alleviating poverty in economically feasible ways and, furthermore, that such an approach is a more effective means for increasing wellbeing and alleviating poverty than aid or philanthropy.

The promise of the inclusive business approach, however, comes with many challenges. Corporate engagement in informal low-income settings can be an expression of power imbalances. There is also thin empirical knowledge of the new role of NGOs as participants of inclusive business creation. This calls for better understanding the process and outcomes of inclusive business creation in low-income settings, the power dynamics involved as well as the multi-dimensional sustainability implications.

Involving the concerns above and extending beyond them, Gronen2014 conference welcomes research on sustainability implications of multi-faceted inclusive business at low-income contexts, and development implications of corporate responsibility. We also look for contributions exploring new methodological approaches for studying informal low-income communities and business and NGO activity in such contexts.

Growth or degrowth?

The above at least seemingly contradictory concerns – one hand the need to save the resources of the earth and on the other hand to create better/decent livelihoods for a major part of the population of the world – challenge the very fundament of our contemporary society, namely (the belief in) economic growth. Can our economy possibly keep growing throughout the world without continuous overuse of natural resources? This concern is not new, and it has previously evoked concepts such as green growth, sustainable growth and eco-efficiency. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that the variants of sustainable growth paradigms are not leading to reduction in absolute resource use.

Yet, the current global resource overshoot is undermining the wellbeing of current and future generations. Unless we manage to decouple the growth of benefits from the growth of ills in a relatively short time span, ecological disaster will lead to economic ruin. To grow or de-grow, that’s the question! But, that’s not the question. There are things that need to de-grow and there are things that need to grow. How do you make a garden flourish? Each year you study its growth and figure out which plants to weed and which to nourish. Similarly in Gronen2014, we will take a look at the global ecological, social and economic reality and engage into a discussion to determine which management theories, practices, and research results require weeding and which require nourishing. Growth and de-growth – how, what, and for whom?

What – if anything – can individual small and medium sized firms do to reduce absolute resource use at the societal/global level? How should multinational corporations act toward national and international institutions that are or should be governing our common future? Is ‘doing well by doing good’ enough, or will there be a need for ‘doing good by letting go of earning opportunities’?

Session Formats

GRONEN 2014 will bring together a range of different formats for advancing the academic debate on corporate responsibility and sustainability. We aim to provide a suitable platform for academic exchange for research at different stages. In the scholarly programme we therefore offer full paper sessions as well as research development sessions. In addition the conference features Special Topic Workshops.

Scholarly paper sessions provide a platform for the presentation and discussion of fully developed papers. Sessions will be grouped topically and authors will have a 15 minute time slot to present their work, followed by a discussion.
Research development sessions offer a platform for scholars to present work in progress. Presentation time will be shorter but more time will be allocated to discussion. Submissions will be accepted depending of the potential contribution and innovativeness of the proposed research. Research development sessions will be facilitated by (faculty members TBA)
Special topic workshop: Sustainability implications of inclusive business for poverty alleviation (Organizer: Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University. Keynote guest: Professor Stuart Hart & TBD)
Special topic workshop: Sustainability entrepreneurship & climate change (Organizer: Professor Frank Belz, Technical University of Munich, School of Management)
Responsibility café: What is the most important 'thing' or 'idea' from this conference that needs our joint attention now and in the near future? (Organizer: Dr. Timo Järvensivu; World Café format)
Review Process
All submissions to full paper sessions and to research development sessions will undergo a double-blind review process prior to acceptance. Full papers will be assessed with regard to their rigour and quality similar to a submission to an academic journal. Short papers submitted to research development sessions will be selected with regard to the potential contribution and novelty they promise. The scientific committee will review all accepted submissions and award prizes for the best conference paper and the best PhD paper.

Special Issue of Organization & Environment
A special issue of Organization and Environment will be associated with GRONEN 2014. Scholars that submit their work to the conference are also invited to submit their work to this special issue. Furthermore, authors will benefit from the opportunity to exchange with the special issue editors and the numerous members of the scientific committee of GRONEN 2014 that are editorial board members of Organization and Environment. Participation in the Gronen conference, however, is not necessary for submission to the special issue. The call for papers for the special issue will be announced in due course of time in the conference website.

The deadline for all submissions to GRONEN 2014 is 17 February 2014. Submissions are electronic (either doc or pdf files) and should be sent to Please state in the paper and in your email the type of submission you want to make (full paper or short paper). The selection process, notification of authors and registration of participants follows the schedule below:

Monday, 13 January 2014: Registration open
Monday, 17 February 2014: Deadline for submissions
Monday, 14 April 2014: Notification of acceptance
Friday, 30 May 2014: Deadline for registration
16-18 June 2014: GRONEN 2014 Research Conference

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