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09 June 2023

Finland

Hanken School of Economics

Hanken School of Economics

Introduction and Institutional Background

Founded in 1909, Hanken is one of the oldest business schools in the Nordic countries and it received the university status in 1927. Today, Hanken is the only stand-alone business school in Finland, operating in Helsinki and in Vaasa. Hanken has around 110 years of experience in research and education in economics and business administration.

Social responsibility and Sustainability at Hanken are core pillars of our strategy Hanken 2030. It is integrated and advocated across all our activities: research, teaching, partnerships, our campus buildings and our operations.

Hanken has dedicated both budgetary and human capital to carry out PRME at Hanken. The PRME team manages key sustainability networks, stakeholder relationships, reporting, driving internal engagement and strategic changes, as well as campus sustainability, and organising events.

Furthermore, there are also several cross-unit working groups focused on societal impact, sustainability, equality, data protection, well-being and the estate that meet regularly.

The PRME team: Dr. Martin Fougère (Professor in Management and Organisation), Dr. Nikodemus Solitander (Director of Centre for Corporate Responsibility), Sanchi Maheshwari (Social Responsibility Coordinator). As sustainability assistant Elise Wegelius until October 2022 and now Enni Nokkosmäki.

One of the SDG integration Challenges

An example of using an assessment instrument to promote learning about one or more SDGs

The Action

Complement to aim2flourish within the course STRATEGY AND SUSTAINABILITY MSc course, 5 ECTS

Strictly speaking, the innovation is to provide an additional assignment for all student teams after they wrote their aim2flourish stories. The videos are presented in four different sessions, each with five different videos. After each session, the most inspirational of the five featured innovations is selected by the audience. This is where the innovation then is added: the four teams per session whose innovation was NOT selected as most inspirational each scrutinize the various aspects of the most inspirational innovation of their session (from the economic, environmental, social, and SDGs perspectives, respectively) and prepare for a debate with the ‘winning team’ of their session as to possible weaknesses, blind spots or unintended consequences of the select-ed innovation. The four ‘winning teams’ (one per session) also prepare their own arguments to show why their innovation is the best in class. In the final session of the course, the debates take place and in the very end the most inspirational innovation of the whole course is selected.

The Outcome and Impact

The students participating in the debates session, particularly all the ‘winning’ teams who are there to explain why they see ‘their’ innovations as the most inspirational win-win business-sustainability innovations, were very excited and motivated in convincing the audience of the promising possibilities of scaling up their innovations. The scrutiny from the perspective of all three pillars of sustainability and the SDGs allowed for understanding possible unintended and undesirable side impacts of the innovations, particularly when anticipating the scaling up of these innovations. Through the debates, debaters and audience alike get to understand the complexity of advancing sustainable solutions that make a real difference while making sure that their scaling up does not cause too negative disruptions on other fronts than those directly targeted by the innovations.

Lesson Learned: issues / challenges when introducing the innovation, and how to resolve them

This year, we had an excellent wrap-up discussion in the end of the debates session which related to the relative importance of leadership (which is very much foregrounded in the aim2flourish spirit) versus other important aspects making sustainable innovations possible, such as business model, governance, mindset, practices and values (to name a few such aspects). A key learning point was that a great deal of time needs to be made available for this session, as the closing discussion where the takeaways of the entire aim2flourish exercise followed by the debates are best generated when all these activities are very fresh in the minds of all participants. When piloted for the first time in a previous year, only 3 teaching hours had been booked for the session. In 2022, 4 teaching hours were booked (with appropriate breaks, of course) and this proved optimal for performing the debates well and having enough time for a very meaningful discussion about key takeaways in the very end.

Resources in Need to Adopt or Adapt this Approach

The course provides an overview of the master’s programme in international strategy and sustainability by exploring current research on global and local challenges of strategic management that emphasize and prioritize sustainability. Within the course, students in groups of four develop aim2flourish stories (aim2flourish.com) about inspirational sustainability-oriented innovations. The course follows the exact aim2flourish instructions for this assignment, and all student groups also create videos about their stories. Besides the resources of the aim2flourish web site, the course relies on some audiovisual resources provided centrally by Hanken, and otherwise on normal teaching resources, involving in 2022 one main examiner, Martin Fougère, and one teaching assistant, Eva Nilsson – both of whom coordinated together the debates session about the most inspirational win-win business-sustainability innovations.

Short, medium, and/or long term Goals

The course is given yearly and the plan is to continue including this debates session, as it goes beyond the strict ‘appreciative inquiry’ spirit of aim2flourish to also anticipate possible unintended and undesirable side impacts of the most inspirational innovations, a crucially important step when we are talking about scaling up innovations.

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