We learned a lot from past NBM conferences. Particularly NBM@Berlin 2019 led to some eye-opening conclusions: First, researchers in the field of sustainable business must get louder and bolder. A lot has been achieved, but little is actually taken up in practice! Second, more research is needed that crosses disciplinary boundaries and experiments with new methods.
First, researchers must get louder and bolder: The “ABC” discussion panel, including pioneers from academia, business and consulting, found that policy makers and industry associations fail to tackle issues such as climate change or social issues in global supply chains effectively. At the same time, there is still hope that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved. But this will not happen without really bold and innovative measures. The panel discussion concluded with a clear call to action. Researchers in the field of sustainable business must get louder and bolder in promoting new approaches. These include female and collective leadership, upgrading and upscaling of green and social businesses models, real-world experiments and making sustainability pioneers more visible, also within business school education.
Second, researchers must think out of the box: More interdisciplinary and experimental research is needed. The presented papers and the panel discussions at NBM@Berlin 2019 showed that there is an urgent need for more inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary research, i.e. integrative research done together with non-academic stakeholders, and research that is testing new methods. If research on sustainable business should become much more relevant in the eyes of business practitioners, policy makers, consumers and civil society at large, we must find ways to explore and extend the boundaries of what we know about how business can contribute to sustainable development.
NBM@Nijmegen 2020 offers a great opportunity to continue these conversations and motivate ourselves to get louder and bolder!