Tag Cloud
Tuesday
May172016

Technology, agriculture, conservation and poverty

As we investigate and pursue mutuality for all those in the value chain, we find smallholder farmers at the intersection of several critical issues. Cocoa and coffee farmers, for instance, are often located in remote areas of developing economies where poverty and access to markets and services are significant challenges. Small, subsistence farming operations are also frequently located in areas with overlapping environmental concerns, including water, soil, forestation and endangered species issues.

There are various proposals to use technology to improve agricultural practices, raise the standard of living for subsistence farmers and address environmental problems, though the one discussed in a recent issue of Scientific American is interesting because it suggests embracing developments in very high-intensity, low footprint agriculture, combined with accelerating existing trends towards urbanization. As evidence of this opportunity to “decouple” the rise of living standard and damage to the environment, the authors note:

Today, for example, humans require just half of the farmland per capita that they did 50 years ago.”

It’s a short article, and the solution would not be simple or easy—there are social and cultural questions that would need to be answered for a start—but this kind of counter-intuitive but evidence-based  approach to difficult and overlapping issues may help us find better solutions in the future.

-- Yassine El Ouarzazi

Wednesday
May042016

Corporate culture and framing innovation opportunities

One of our distinguished Catalyst Fellows, Professor Anne-Laure Fayard, has recently published a paper (co-authored with Emmanouil Gkeredakis and Natalia Levina) that examines "how an organization’s culture, and in particular its stance toward the pursuit of knowledge and innovation, matters when confronting new digitally enabled practices for generating novel insights.”

The work follows the experience of two innovation consultancies that considered crowdsourcing for innovation, and describes the different positions enacted by the firms. To explain the differences, the authors developed the concept of organizational epistemic stance, defined as "an attitude that organizational actors collectively enact in pursuing knowledge.”  Professor Fayard and her co-authors conclude:

Our analysis suggests that when organizational actors encounter and explore information technology-enabled practices, such as crowdsourcing and big data analytics, they are likely to remain committed to their epistemic stance to frame such practices and judge their potential value for pursuing knowledge."

We think this will be of interest to anyone interested in the relationship between innovation and culture and encourage you to explore further. A full abstract and links to the full paper can be found here.

-- Bojan Angelov

Tuesday
May032016

Forum on building a new economic model -- agenda now available

We are looking forward to hosting, with Oxford's Saïd Business School, a forum on responsible business! You can now find more details about the agenda on our Events page, as well as on SBS's site.  Please take a look, and if you need more information you can email the organizer.

The Responsible Business Forum is part of a joint research programme launched in 2014 between Saïd Business School and the Catalyst think-tank at Mars Incorporated, the global food and beverage company, to co-develop a business management theory for the economics of mutuality with corresponding teaching curriculum, new management practices and business case studies.

-- Catalysts

Thursday
Apr212016

Danish example demonstrates how partnering delivers results for SDG incubators

A recent report in Business Fights Poverty cites the example of Danish biotech company Novozymes, which implemented a strategy called Partnering for Impact to achieve the greatest impact for underserved markets.

Novozymes realized its expertise in the technical innovation space would be insufficient in nations looking to improve their sustainable development goals (SDGs), because pieces of important infrastructure are underdeveloped or missing. For that reason, Novozymes participated in an incubator called DIVA Ventures L3C, which includes foundations, corporations and impact investors that focuses on increasing capabilities and spreading risk. All partners bring their ideas for positive societal change to a joint team governed to DIVA. The venture is then developed systematically to ensure bankable returns. Corporations like Novozymes benefit from strong organizations with proven track records while its partners can see their ideas for societal growth scaled to provide the greatest impact.

Image source: Business Fights Poverty

-- Catalysts

Thursday
Apr072016

Catalyst and Saïd Business School Forum: Can you do well by doing good?

Mars Catalyst and Oxford's Said School of Business are pleased to host an event that examines the question of whether you can ever really do well as a business by doing good.  Details of the event can be found on our Events page, as well as the SBS website, and we will post more information here in the lead up to the forum.

The Responsible Business Forum is part of a joint research programme launched in 2014 between Saïd Business School and the Catalyst think-tank at Mars Inc., the global food and beverage company, to co-develop a business management theory for the Economics of Mutuality with corresponding teaching curriculum, new management practices and business case studies.

This uniquely insightful forum will tackle the tough questions of companies producing and selling good products badly and bad products well, providing a comprehensive evidence-based overview of how companies can and are seeking to become more responsible and where they succeed, or fail.

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