A Shifting Business Paradigm: Building the Green Economy through the Voinovich School

Business leaders today are beginning to wake up to some hard truths. These realities are at the forefront of a paradigm shift occurring in business to a greener economy and more responsible form of capitalism. By working with CE3, I am able to contribute to this movement.

We are taxing the planet’s finite resources faster than we can replenish them. In fact, the Global Footprint Network estimates that we are currently using the resources equivalent to 1.5 times what the earth can replenish. World Overshoot Day, the day of the year in which our resource use surpasses the equivalent of one planet Earth, occurred on August 22 this year, a date that continues to get earlier. The first World Overshoot Day occurred in the mid-1970s. Clearly, for humanity to continue to flourish, something needs to change. Our current open-loop economy, in which we extract raw materials that eventually end up as waste, will not work forever on a closed-loop planet.

A man named Giles Hutchins is working at the forefront of this shifting business paradigm. My father worked with him at Atos Origin, a large global software company, where Giles was the Global Director of Sustainability Solutions. Giles recently stepped down to write a book called The Nature of Business, in which he writes about “firms of the future” and calls for a new paradigm where businesses do not merely mitigate their impacts, but go beyond that and put value back into society through natural and social capital. These concepts, and the “triple bottom line,” (people, planet, profit), in which companies look at more than just their monetary profit, provide significant potential for positive change should the business world adopt them on a large scale. The positive-feedback loop that could occur with such a movement is truly revolutionary. Giles is also working on a documentary with the BBC on the same subject (he is British).

Some of his work touches on biomimicry (applying nature’s principles to business) and industrial ecology. The idea behind this is that nature has had 3.8 billion years to evolve and adapt for survival on this planet. We have only been around a fraction of this time, and can learn a lot from nature to survive in the challenging times ahead. You can read more at his blog here: http://thenatureofbusiness.org/.

I am currently working through CE3 to set up an event for Giles to come to the U.S. and speak at OU and other major universities in the state. Business schools are the target audience, as Giles’ focus is on moving the business world to adopt principles like values-led business and the triple bottom line. Having looked at MBA curricula, I know these philosophies are starting to gain ground in graduate schools, but they have yet to be adopted in business courses at the undergraduate level. The Voinovich School has provided me with the resources to pursue such an important initiative.

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3 thoughts on “A Shifting Business Paradigm: Building the Green Economy through the Voinovich School

  1. Dr. Dabelko – that is certainly some fascinating work. I would love an introduction! Looks like I have a new book to read too… Thanks for the info

  2. I would also urge you to have Dr. Giles speak before audiences outside business schools as well. Finding ways to build bridges among NGO and private sector actors for example is a key but neglected area. Such dialogue with these wider constitutencies is broadening understanding if not agreement.

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