From energy transition to increasing calls for intergenerational equity, and from the rise of social entrepreneurship to the growing number of people who opt to put their money into 'impact investing', the issues that inspire research into sustainable development have the potential to affect the lives of every citizen on Earth.
Inspired by the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Sustainable Development research theme aims to draw on an interdisciplinary wealth of expertise at SBE and in the broader Maastricht University community (including UNU-MERIT and its Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, ECCE, MC4E and MSI) to create high-quality, high-impact, socially relevant research into entrepreneurship and innovation. From financial regulation and corporate governance to the circular economy, the team focuses on understanding value-creation strategies that resolve the trade-off between company profitability and broader social value.
Initial research projects include Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainable Development, which examines the impact of the funding sources for startups and SMEs on sustainable practices, and Towards Sustainable Energy Transition in the Wake of Climate Change, which focuses on how both fossil-fuel-producing and consuming economies can benefit from these shifts. Development of a Global Gender Index (GGI) looks beyond the indices that focus on publicly available measures to get an inside view on whether firms’ internal processes live up to their official gender policies, and Measuring the Effectiveness of Shareholder Engagement considers the effectiveness of institutional “long-horizon” investors in achieving sustainable development goals.
Building on networks with other universities, think tanks, policy and regulatory institutions, NGOs, financial institutions, corporations and entrepreneurs, the Sustainable Development theme is involved in a broad range of external initiatives, from creating a business case for divestment for the not-for-profit group Tobacco Free Portfolios to playing a key role in Maastricht University’s founding partnership (with Harvard Kennedy School, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and others) in the United Nations SDG Impact Finance Research Council.
As academics, we need to cooperate with peers in other disciplines, governments, NGOs and private companies to carry out research that contributes to achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Rob Bauer, leader of the Sustainable Development research theme
In the spotlight
8th World Sustainability Forum (Geneva 15-17 September 2020)
We would like to bring to your institute’s attention the 8th World Sustainability Forum (WSF2020) that will be held at the International Conference Centre Geneva from 15 to 17 September 2020 during the 1st World Sustainability Week in Geneva, Switzerland. Visit the WSF 2020 website.
Publication by Jarrod Ormiston: Stakeholder expectations in Social Impact Bonds (SIBs)
Jarrod Ormiston, from the Department of Organisation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship has co-authored an article on Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) in Public Money and Management (Impact Factor 1.215). The article explores how diverse stakeholders frame their expectations of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). Using discourse analysis, the authors examine competing expectations in SIB press releases, showing how they differ between stakeholders, between institutional contexts, and how they evolve over time. The paper highlights how the prioritization of social finance and collaboration discourses privileges the role of private investors, which in turn diminishes the role of service providers as innovators. The paper is available here.
Finance education does not make students unethical
Students who are reminded of their identity as a finance student do not behave more unethically than finance students who are not reminded of this identity. That is the conclusion of a recent Master Thesis of Alexander Ganster, supervized by Paul Smeets. Alex Ganster conducted an experiment In which 105 finance students of both bachelor and master programs from Maastricht University could earn real money. Students engaged in a coin-tossing task where they had to self-report successful coin tosses in order to win a monetary reward. The results show that finance students, on average, tend to lie a little bit. They are not perfectly honest, but neither cheat to the maximum extent possible. Yet, there seems to be no causal effect of studying finance on cheating behavior, when comparing the group that was primed with their finance student idendity to a control group that was primed with leisure activities.
Sustainable Agroforestry project
With the help of support from the Finance Department, the University Fund SWOL and the Research Theme Sustainability, Sustainable Finance student Monika Riecken went on a field trip to the Brazilian Amazon to work on a sustainable agroforestry project and to work on her thesis.
The research trip to the Amazon Area in April and May 2019 resulted in key insights on investee realities in impact investing. The Interviews with producers in the field and the responsible staff, have enabled the researchers to gain a unique perspective on the impact investing opportunity. As a consequence, major changes to the business model were made with the goal of improving the model for investors and importantly also for the involved producers.
Meanwhile, the thesis has been nominated for the UM student prize and will be submitted for the OIKOS business case challenge. The thesis itself, a case study with teaching notes, is used in sustainable finance teaching at Maastricht University and elsewehere!
Turning Up The Heat
Although indoor climate innovations are motivated from a building efficiency and worker comfort perspective, the link between indoor environmental changes and resulting performance remains unclear. The GSBE Sustainability grant has helped to fund the research into the effect of indoor temperature on human decision making, testing participants in a lab setting.
In the experiment, we assessed the effect of indoor climate factors on performance by investigating decisional processes. In a controlled laboratory, participants (N=240) were exposed to a controlled physical environment with either hot temperature (28°C) or neutral temperature (21°C) in which a battery of validated tests were conducted.
We find that heat does not lead to differences in decisional quality. We do, however, find evidence for a strong gender difference in self-report effects, such that only men blame the temperature for the non-existent decline in performance. Future research should continue to focus on the link between decisional quality and temperature and its complex interaction, to obtain a more accurate performance measure. Moreover, the current stream of research often relies heavily on self-report as a proxy for performance, and examination of the validity of self-report and performance should conclusively show its relevance in adverse indoor conditions.
A working paper summarizing the findings, “Turning Up the Heat: The Impact of Temperature on Cognitive Processes and the Validity of Self-Report,” by Stroom, Eichholtz and Kok, is forthcoming. The working paper has been presented internationally at the Social Judgement and Decision Making 2019 Conference in Montreal, and will be presented at the 2020 ASSA Meetings in San Diego. The manuscript is currently being prepared for publication.
Conference: Sustainable Buildings 2.0: Healthy Buildings and Human Performance
We are looking back on a great conference Sustainable Buildings 2.0: Healthy Buildings and Human Performance', which was held on 7 November at SBE and in Lumière.
This one-day conference, featured cutting edge research and the latest industry insights into buildings, health and human performance.
Speakers included representatives from Harvard, LSE, MIT, WeWork, Aclima, and other leading organisations.
Publication: Policies to promote Indigenous entrepreneurship
Jarrod Ormiston, from the Department of Organisation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship (OSE) has just published an article on Indigenous entrepreneurship in Public Management Review (Impact Factor 3.162). The article explores the role of public procurement policy on promoting Indigenous entrepreneurship. The paper takes a critical perspective on the policy developments in Australia that have perversely created increased expectations on Indigenous entrepreneurs. Supporting Indigenous entrepreneurship aligns with directly SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth) and SDG 10 (Reduce Inequalities). The paper is available open access here.
Symposium: Gender Representation in Public Policy
Last June we organised a symposium: 'Gender Representation in Public Policy' of which we made an online registration: you can view this here.
Creating an inclusive social innovation ecosystem in Lesvos, Greece
In May, Dr Jarrod Ormiston, Assistant Professor in Social Entrepreneurship, was a keynote speaker at the Changemakers Summit in Lesvos where he presented his insights from the Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship for Migrants and Refugees. The main goal of the event was to develop practical ideas and actions that would contribute to a more inclusive social innovation ecosystem on Lesvos.
Refugee and Migrant Entrepreneurship
Jarrod Ormiston (MC4E/OS) and Talitha Dubow (UNU-MERIT) launched the Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship for Migrants and Refugees at the World Investment Forum in Geneva. Jarrod and Talitha were the lead consultants in drafting the guide, which was a collaborative initiative of UNCTAD, IOM and UNHCR. The policy guide focuses on the role of entrepreneurship in enhancing the positive effects of migration on economic growth and development.
Sustainable Investment in Agro-Forestry
On Wednesday 31 October, students in the Master of Sustainable Finance - developed by ECCE - met with Angélica Rotondaro, founder of Alimi, a Brazilian organization set up to promote sustainable investment in AgroForestry: a more responsible way of combining agriculture and forestry to help preserve biodiversity and contribute to saving the Amazon rainforest.
Investing in tobacco stocks can carry substantial financial risks.
Professor Rob Bauer and a team of six students from the Honours Programme at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics contribute to a scenario analysis in the report Tobacco: Reviewing the Growing Financial Risks. The study was commissioned by Tobacco Free Portfolios (TFP), a global organisation that works with the finance sector.
Building a better world: time for economists to step up
'Economists can and must play an important role in keeping this planet liveable,' says Sustainable Development theme leader Rob Bauer. 'The world seems to have changed in just a few years. But sustainability in its various forms and guises has been around for at least a quarter of a century. Certainly at this university, in this faculty.'
ICIS research honoured by leading journal
Sustainability assessment (SA) aims to align decision-making with sustainability principles, but to date the results have been disappointing in both the public and private sectors. 'Sustainability Assessment as Problem Structuring: Three Typical Ways', an ICIS study, has received an honourable mention in Sustainability Science's 2017 Best Paper Awards.
Who cares about climate risk? The real estate sector should
'When it comes to natural disasters, buildings, once constructed, are much like sitting ducks. But ducks can fly, and buildings cannot (as of yet),' observes Nils Kok in a co-authored article for Medium.com about the looming impact of climate change on real estate portfolios, with a close look at asset pricing, recent superstorms, heatwaves and flooding in the US, and big data's role in facilitating forecasting.
No sermons necessary: sustainability's bottom line
'Some academics take the role of preachers when it comes to sustainability, and just insist that we must be sustainable. But if sustainability pays, in monetary terms, you don’t need to be a preacher, you don’t need government rules – the market will provide incentives,' says SBE professor Piet Eichholtz, who spoke to alumni as part of the UM Star Lectures 2018 series.
Real estate, real problems: why it's dangerous in there
"I was always fascinated about how little evidence there was about how buildings affect your health and your performance at work; it’s the reason I came to Maastricht University and SBE to work with worldwide real estate experts,” says doctoral candidate Juan Palacios of his research into the great (and sometimes perilous) indoors.
Gender Representation in Public Policy Symposium 2019
United Nations University – MERIT, Maastricht, 18 June 2019
Featuring representatives from various international organisations and European universities, the symposium encompassed a quickfire series of lectures focusing on topics such as women’s access to formal political decision making and descriptive representation. This was followed by various interactive activities including a ‘Fishbowl Conversation’, a Labour Market Panel comparing European (OSCE), the Americas (USAID, IDB), and Asia Pacific (UN ESCAP) perspectives on the theme, as well as case studies discussions.
Conference: Managing and Financing Responsible Businesses
SBE, 5-7 September 2018
The inaugural annual conference of the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment was hosted by the European Centre for Corporate Engagement (ECCE) and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. Scholars presented and discussed papers on sustainability with major contributions to complementary disciplines such as finance, accounting, management, strategy and development economics. Keynote speakers were Professor Alex Edmans of London Business School in the UK and Professor Tima Bansal of Ivey Business School, Western University, Canada.
My research seeks to understand the role of social entrepreneurship in tackling sustainability challenges. In particular, I am interested in understanding how entrepreneurial activity in the informal economy can contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable community development
My passion is to understand what motivates millionaires to give to charities and to invest not only for financial return but also for social return
Sustainable development is inclusive development. Millions of young people feel excluded from participation in economic, political and social life, as a result of weak formal institutions and persistent traditional norms. This exacerbates poverty, inequality and sympathies for extremist views and behaviour. Research on these topics is key for developing effective policies and programmes for a sustainable, inclusive world