Sustainability and Responsibility - Reseach

Cranfield School of Management

Our Research

As a specialist action-research centre at Cranfield School of Management, our research is focused on CR, sustainability and the role of business in society. Our purpose is to enable academic research in these areas, and provide today's manager with the knowledge, vision and scope to adopt a fully sustainable approach to business activities.

            •  We undertake our own research and also collaborate with associates and partners.
            • We also support faculty members of the School of Management in their related research.
            • Our library is free to access here.
            • We also encourage research via our students at MBA/MSc and PhD level, who we consider the next generation of leaders in the field.

Renewing Capitalism

We are working on a scoping exercise to map out a range of initiatives focussed on renewing capitalism. This exciting project was the last challenge given to the Centre by its founding sponsor, the late Nigel Doughty, in his last meeting with the Centre director. For more information, click here.


A multi-year research project into how businesses are collaborating for economic regeneration and social inclusion, and to advance Responsible Business Practices. More...

Embedding Sustainability: Stages of Corporate Responsibility Maturity

A multi-year research project on what businesses need to do in order to embed responsible business.More...   

Lead: Professor David Grayson and Ron Ainsbury

Creating a corporate culture of sustainability and engaging employees 

Leading organisations are finding that even with significant leadership support, investment and expertise, getting their organisation to the point of where they can truly call themselves sustainable is very hard to achieve.  This is doubly so for organisations who are not considered to be leading the sustainability agenda.  It is critical, therefore, to understand why this is so and to help remove barriers to success.  Research shows that organisational culture is a key reason for this; a disconnect between what is asked for from employees versus what actually happens.  We are researching this, understanding why this is occurring and how to solve it. 

Phase 1 involved developing an audit framework to understand the true state of an organisation's culture and why it helps or disables efforts to be responsible and sustainable, including employee behaviours, social norms, and skills and competencies. This has been, and continues to be, tested and has been well received as being insightful, uncovering 'hidden unknowns' .  We intend to continue testing it, and now wish to apply this to sectors that are having noted difficulties, such as the banking and pharma sectors.

Phase 2 is to develop a process of change using the knowledge gained from the audit tests and case studies, so that organisations have a framework for integrating the insight and related advice into their existing efforts to be sustainable - all with the objective of helping organisations to have a more positive impact on society, the environment, and their own shareholders.

Lead: Nadine Exter

Responsible Innovation

This research programme explores how companies innovate for sustainability.  It includes, but is not confined to,exploration of how companies use high-level commitment such as to Circular Economy to drive innovation; establish more eclectic networks of potential innovation partners (including NGOs, suppliers, competitors, companies in other sectors, academia, government agencies and development agencies); equip managers and leaders with partnership skills; create enabling environments in which employee-initiated innovation (such as social intrapreneurism) can occur; rethink their overall governance of innovation; and seek sustainable shared-value for the company and society.

Lead: Dr Palie Smart

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