My book, “Can Business Save the Earth? Innovating Our Way to Sustainability” from Stanford University Press with co-author Ronnie Chatterji, is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be published on May 22, 2018. In this book, we investigate whether business will be able to meet our sustainability challenge through the development of innovative technologies that reduce carbon emissions and prevent further environmental degradation. The book argues that current corporate social responsibility initiatives and calls for corporations to internalize the externalities from their activities will not be nearly enough to avoid breaching the carbon budget formulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Instead, achieving sustainability will require dramatic innovations across multiple industrial sectors at the same time. To achieve this transformation, it will require a broader system of inspired actors, ranging from inventors, to corporate managers, investors, customers, policymakers and NGOs. Drawing on over a decade of academic research and working with corporations, the book explains what role each of these actors will play and how their activities can mutually reinforce each other. It concludes with recommendations for how “shapers” in each of these sectors can influence the trajectory of the system towards greater sustainability.
Emerald Publishing has published my new edited volume, “Strategy Beyond Markets”, with co-authors John M. De Figueiredo of Duke, Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard, and Richard G. Vanden Bergh of Vermont. This is 34th title in their Advances in Strategic Management Series.
The quote the introduction, “Traditional strategy scholarship is fundamentally about understanding the choices firms make in markets to create and capture long run value. Scholars in this space study the actions and choices of firms by focusing on firm interactions with or responses to key market rivals and/or market-based stakeholders such as upstream suppliers, downstream distributors, and key employees. Strategy Beyond Markets research is also interested in how the actions of firms affect long run value. However, the scholars in the Strategy Beyond Markets field focus their attention on choices emanating from firm interactions with or responses to entities beyond their primary market stakeholders such as government regulators, community organizations, unions, advocacy groups, and policy makers. These Beyond Market stakeholders are numerous and each have own wants, demands or requirements of firms.”
By Michael Lenox and Erika Herz
“Follow the yellow brick road”. So Dorothy is told in the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. Alas, if the world’s economies only had such a clear and singular path to follow subsequent to the recent promising Paris Climate Accord.
While the accord has raised hopes that government leaders are serious about reversing climate change, in reality, the path forward is probably more like a vast river with multiple tributaries that merge before powering toward the sea. To significantly reduce our carbon footprint, innovation is required on a massive scale from critical sectors of the economy: energy, transportation and agriculture, just to name a few. Such innovation will not just magically manifest itself. It requires numerous tributaries, including federal and state policy and actions by both public and private actors, leading to a carbon-reduced future. It requires the creation and adoption of a comprehensive technology and innovation policy.
by Jay Hodgkins and Michael Lenox
When new technology makes an industry ripe for disruption, a leading wave of innovators simply pursue the possible. As consumers embrace their new choices, the trailing wave of popular demand means incumbents are better served preparing for the future than digging in to protect the old paradigm.
Adapt or die, to borrow an idea from Charles Darwin. But adapting is hard for incumbents, as Clayton Christensen so famously detailed in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma.
By Jeffrey York and Michael Lenox
Scholars and policy makers have long posited that new industries that produce environmentally beneficial products are a critical component of environmental sustainability. New firms may foster products and services that enable environmentally friendly practices, while existing firms may shift their product lines in response. Yet, we know little about the drivers for entry into emerging green industries. Are the drivers different for startups and established companies? Do economic, political, or cultural environmental factors matter more?
The bloom is off the rose. Massively open online courses (MOOCs), heralded by Silicon Valley visionaries and higher education critics alike as the great disruptor of the university, are coming under increased criticism for their failure to provide the powerful learning outcomes that their proponents predicted. Foremost of concern to the naysayers is the low completion rates of most MOOCs, as low as 4% as reported in some surveys (see this study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania). There are many reasons for this, but it is becoming clear that flashy videos and engaging problem sets are in of themselves not sufficient to generate commitment among many participants.
Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich recently released an interesting report on the potential impact off online education on MBA programs (“Will Video Kill the Classroom Star?”). While many might quibble about the particulars of their back-of-the-envelope calculations on the cost of residential versus online education, there is much to like about their analysis and with much that I agree. In particular, the notion that MOOCs are a red herring in the debate about the future of education, and that the true power of online approaches is the embedded technology that allows for customization and scalability (what they refer to as “SuperText”) rings true. “SuperText” presents new opportunities not only for substituting for but improving upon some elements of residential learning.
I recently completed teaching the second session of my Foundations of Business Strategy massively open online course (MOOC) through the Coursera platform and I continue to be amazed by the reach and impact of MOOCs. In the past 9 months, over 150,000 students have enrolled from over 150 countries across the world. The stories from students are heartening. Hundreds of in-person study groups formed in over 50 countries. Students included young entrepreneurs and mature small business owners; non-profit organizers; a study group of Mongolia students led by a Peace Corps volunteer; a group of unemployed women in Ohio looking to improve their job prospects; a group of students in Bolivia led under a program from the U.S. State Department; and a group of Arab and Israeli students participating through the YaLa Young Leaders program building détente through education.
Every organization needs a strategy. Be it an established business, an emerging entrepreneurial venture, or a non-profit organization, a strategy sets the direction of the enterprise, informs priorities and the allocation of scarce resources, and helps guide the myriad decisions that an organization makes every day.
The purpose of this book is to provide a framework and a set of tools to aid those who wish to analyze the strategy of an organization, be it their own and or another organization they are interested in. Please click on the icon to the left to see a sampling from the book. After reading this book, one will have the basic tools necessary to be an effective strategic analyst, or strategist, an individual skilled in the art of assessing an organization’s strategy. Strategic analysis is a powerful tool for analyzing the competitive context in which an organization operates. An effective strategist makes reasoned and reasonable recommendations for how an organization should position itself relative to its peers and for assessing what actions the organization should take to maximize value creation for its various stakeholders.