Challenging our strategies by making them visible
How do we build brands with sustainability? How do we get people to choose, for example, what is good for themselves and the climate? When is it enough to offer information, and trust the consumers’ and citizens’ own choices – and when is it necessary to implement stronger regulations in the form of policies and procedures?
“A lot of trust is placed in the conscious consumer. But receiving certain information could lead to other, emotional, costs. For example, we may feel guilty or uncomfortable when we deliberately consume more calories than we should,” says Jonas Nordström, associate professor of Economics.
Consumers create strategies to ignore information
While politicians refer to information as a good control instrument, that can make us choose food produced with less water, less carbon dioxide emissions, better animal welfare and good working conditions for those who produce the goods, it turns out that consumers consciously create strategies to ignore this type of information.
“Strategic self-ignorance – when we choose to consciously ignore how our current behaviour affects our future self. We thereby allow ourselves to overindulge in temptations and risk behaviour, such as eating too much fast food. The consumer might gain from their ignorance and use it as an excuse to continue consuming these products,” says Jonas Nordström.
The Swedish Corporate Sustainability Ranking
Other research at the School of Economics and Management aims to address how sustainability efforts at companies can be measured. Associate professor Susanne Arvidsson works together with newspapers Dagens Industri and Aktuell Hållbarhet in providing a ranking of the most sustainable Swedish companies.
“We want to help companies become more sustainable and transparent. But to do that, companies and investors must know what to measure. Our review and ranking can provide instruments to avoid greenwashing, bluewashing or even SDG-washing where companies pretend to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly than they really are,” says Susanne Arvidsson.
Replacing carbon footprints with intellectual ones
At the School of Economics and Management, we work to answer the question of how we can create better conditions for sustainability, both in terms of social responsibility and with regard to the Earth’s resources. Our researchers study what works best – how we can replace carbon footprints with intellectual footprints – and provide the Government with proposals for how we should work to achieve the best and most sustainable environment.
An example of this is the recent project where our researchers developed a new method for measuring carbon emissions. Established ways of measuring carbon emissions can sometimes give misleading feedback on how national policies affect global emissions. In some cases, countries are even rewarded for policies that increase global emissions, and punished for policies that contribute to reducing them.
“Our method provides policy makers with more useful information, in order to set national targets and evaluate their climate policies,” says Astrid Kander, professor of Economic History.
Social entrepreneurship for a sustainable society
“I hear many people talking about sustainability and how important it is. But many seem to lack the tools to know what to do. Is this because of something missing in our education? Have we been given the wrong tools?” says Ester Barinaga, professor in social entrepreneurship.
She works with – and does research on – social ventures. One example is Förorten i centrum, where they used the collective production of murals as a method to work with communities in the stigmatised suburbs of Sweden’s cities.
“The idea is that we have to bring the University closer to the world that we study. If we want the world to change, we need to learn together with people outside the university. Right now, I’m involved in a research project in Kenya, where we’ll be studying some of the community currencies that they already have in Mombasa and Nairobi,“ Ester Barinaga says.
Sustainable Future Hub
At the centre of LUSEM’s ambition to contribute to a more sustainable society sits the Sustainable Future Hub. By bringing together LUSEM’s broad network within the business, student and academic communities, the School seeks to find new perspectives and solutions to today’s collective sustainability challenges and thus create positive change for people, society and the environment.
Read more about the Sustainable Future Hub