Sustainable Effectiveness

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Our newest research pillar focuses on designing organizations for sustainable effectiveness. Forward looking organizations no longer assume that the societal and environmental resources they need for effective functioning will be in plentiful supply, nor can they continue to see their depletion of these resources as externalities for which they are not responsible. Rather, these organizations are seeking business and organizational models that sustain earth’s and humanity’s resources.

Our program examines how to build sustainability into the design of the organization, with particular focus on cross-functional and cross-organizational organizing approaches. Building the foundation for sustainable effectiveness entails fundamental change. Tackling the messy global issues requires new organizing approaches, among them the building of networks of organizations coming together in coordinated efforts. It requires ratcheting up the capability of organizations to get employees involved, new approaches to cross-functional coordination in the firm, and new kinds of stakeholder interfaces. It also requires addressing the changing ways that work is done in the global, highly connected economy and ecology, the opportunities and costs these hold for communities and populations, and the challenges posed to our traditional assumptions about organizing.

Some organizations have adopted principles of sustainability as their core values–and they are translating those values into practice. For these organizations, sustainability is not a program, nor a veneer “greenwash.” These companies are simultaneously focusing on complex interrelated outcomes for people, profit and the economic, social and ecological well-being of the planet. These multiple focuses are becoming a market necessity in many sectors, and are integrally related to creating the conditions for effective performance now and for generations to come.

CEO has been building an international community of practitioners and academics to explore organizing approaches to achieve sustainability. We operate through a series of research studies and conferences bringing together scholars paired with pioneering organizations. This mutual learning and exchange of knowledge leads to a series of publications geared to jointly inform practice and theoretical knowledge about sustainable approaches to organizing to promote a viable future.