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Research Goals and Questions

Mankind faces many ecological and social challenges. Global trends, like climate change, resource depletion, the destruction of natural ecosystems or social injustice are but some of the many issues that need to be addressed in the next years and centuries. Against this background, the main goal of the Chair is to investigate how firms and the individuals within them (can) contribute to an ecologically and socially sustainable development.

To achieve this goal, our research focuses on topics at the intersection of (1) strategic management, (2) sustainability, and (3) innovation. Research questions we address in this context are:

  • How does firms' institutional environment (specifically public policy) affect strategic decisions and organizational learning (in the context of corporate sustainability)?
  • Which organizational structures and governance mechanisms enable and promote strategic and organizational change (toward sustainability)?
  • How do cognitive variables, such as attention, framing, and identity, affect (sustainability) strategies of firms?

Research Approach and Methods

Our research is guided by the principle of combining deep theoretical knowledge with methodological rigor to answer questions of great practical relevance. In our studies, we usually start with qualitative research (e.g., case studies based on interviews and archival data) to develop an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of interest and build a theoretical framework. Based on this understanding of the context, wethen use quantitative methods (e.g., regression analysis of frim, industry, and patent data) to test emerging propositions. In addition to using different methods, our research spans different levels of analysis. Moreover, we draw on findings and theories from different disciplines within and outside the field of management (e.g., psychology, economics, and sociology).

Research Setting

Empirically, our research focuses on sectors, which – due to their ecological or societal impact – play a particularly important role for sustainable development. Sectors that fall into this category are the energy sector (e.g., electricity suppliers, producers of renewable energy technologies), the mobility sector (e.g., car companies, providers of alternative mobility solutions), the food sector (e.g., producers of food and packaging), the textile industry (e.g., clothing manufacturers), and the financial sector (e.g., banks). Moreover, in recent projects we study the information and communications technology (ICT) industry to explore the role of digitization for strategic change and sustainability.

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