Department of Management Studies

Sustainability in Business (SUB)

Our mission is to provide knowledge about innovative business models and transition paths that enhance sustainable development. As complex sustainability challenges call for multi-disciplinary knowledge and societally impactful research, we co-create solution proposals together with partners from different sectors of society.
View of Earth from space

Research areas

Energy transitions

Renewable energy production and storage technologies change the way we produce and use energy, do business with it, and innovate.

Solar panels in front of mountains

Innovation for poverty alleviation

Frugal innovations by businesses in resource-scarce environments are one promising approach to poverty alleviation.

Two people hauling bags in Brazil

Innovation for sustainability

The innovation of new sustainable products, services, business models and forms of consumption can help tackle big problems like climate change and resource depletion.

Car parked at electric charging station

Circular economy

Circular economy keeps materials in use longer using strategies like reuse, remanufacture, recycling, and replacing ownership with rentals

Recycling bins

Corporate responsibility

Ethical issues are urgent in our globalized world where the public and civil governance of businesses is often underdeveloped and firms are located in different national regulatory systems.

CSR news articles

New economy

Broader descriptions of economy, work and money are being developed that can help our economy function better.

Palms with sustainability pictures drawn on them


The latest publications from SUB researchers

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Two people with pens hovering over articles

Sustainability teaching

Sustainability course offerings in the School of Business

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Creative Sustainability students gathered around a laptop

SUB seminar series

The SUB lunchtime seminar series provides a monthly forum for all interested to discuss topical research in social and environmental issues in management.

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Plate of food with wooden spoons

Seminar schedule 2019-2020

Spring 2020

Friday 29.5, 12.00-15.00

The doctoral dissertation of Marleen Wierenga, M.Sc, "Innovative entrepreneurial processes in the low-income context" will be publicly examined at the Aalto University School of Business on Friday, May 29th, 2020.

The dissertation studies innovations and entrepreneurship in the context of poverty. In particular, the dissertation looks at the scaling process of low-income grassroots entrepreneurs in India, the support provided to the grassroots innovators and entrepreneurs and the networks of startups from the Global North with innovations for the Global South.

The public defense will be organized via remote technology. Please join the Zoom meeting here: The wish is for the audience to keep the camera and microphone off during the public examination.

Opponent: Professor Sarah Jack (Stockholm School of Economics)
Custos (Chairperson): Professor Minna Halme (Aalto University School of Business)

For more information:

Friday 20.3, 12.00-13.00
Remote seminar, contact [email protected] for more information

Jouni Juntunen and Minna Halme, Aalto University
Sustainability-Oriented Innovation with Stakeholders: Achieving System Level Impacts

Given the centrality of innovation to addressing grand societal challenges, this paper uses a Europe wide data set to identify conditions for sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI). Such challenges cannot be resolved by firms alone but rather in collaboration with stakeholders within the innovation process. Using the focus of ‘doing good by doing new things with others’ we connect the often technical orientation of SOI research to a relational account of stakeholder collaboration in innovation. We operationalise different measures to distinguish innovation leading to incremental or system level impact, bringing the latter to an empirical level. The use of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) reveals a causal complexity behind SOI. Our findings identify concrete configurations of firm-stakeholder collaboration associated with incremental and system level impact. We demonstrate the influence of timing and stakeholder selection on the innovation outcome. In this way we contribute to understanding how and when collaborating with stakeholders can bolster the system level impacts of innovations and enlighten the future for organisations and institutions faced with grand societal challenges.

Wednesday 26.2, 12.30-13.30
Aalto Business School (Ekonominaukio 1), room U213

Simone Carmine, University of Padua
Being the Turtle: A Paradox Approach to Foster Sustainability

Nowadays many companies are implementing sustainability strategies, driven by stakeholder pressure, regulations or intrinsic motivations. However, in doing so, they may face challenges in balancing environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability (e.g. environmental and social performance VS economic performance) and this can weaken their sustainability performance. Usually, in addressing sustainability tensions organizations adopt a business case perspective, which emphasizes the economic element over the other two. However, in recent years a new perspective is emerging in the literature: a paradox perspective on corporate sustainability. Scholars are investigating how individuals and companies are able to live with these tensions and purse competing sustainability goals simultaneously. So, first, the project aims to understand how scholars are adopting this perspective to study sustainability tensions. Through a systematic review of existing literature, we have highlighted three main uses of paradox perspective: a detective approach, a sensemaking approach and a managerial one. Secondly, as we know from the literature, approaching tensions in a paradoxically way can lead to creative and innovative solutions. For these reasons we have investigated empirically how a paradox perspective can help companies to cope with tensions in sustainability, achieving sustainability innovative outcomes and better sustainability performance. A quantitative analysis has been performed on original survey data - from Italian companies in textile, chemicals and basic metals sectors - on paradox perspective, innovation and performance in sustainability. Our analysis revels a positive effect of the paradoxical approach to sustainability tensions on sustainability performance. Finally, through a qualitative study we want to deepen these results and investigate how companies with a high paradox perspective are able to achieve better innovative solutions to sustainability tensions.

Awards and highlights

Minna Halme

HSE Support Foundation Societal Impact Award, 2019

Elizabeth Miller

Thesis "Trash to Treasure: A Multiple Case Study of Finnish Companies That Create Economic Value from Waste Materials" received award for top university master's thesis, Association for Environmental Management (Ymparistöjohtamisen yhdistys ry), 2018

Samuli Patala and Minna Halme

Article "Polycentric Governance of Privately Owned Resources in Circular Economy Systems" received Carolyn Dexter Award for international papers, Academy of Management 2018

Jouni Juntunen, Minna Halme, Angelina Korsunova and Risto Rajala

Article "Powering sustainable innovations: Strategies for collaborating with deviant partners" won Best Academic Paper at R&D Management Conference 2016, University of Cambridge

Minna Halme, Sara Lindeman and Paula Linna

Article "Innovation for Inclusive Business: Intrapreneurial Bricolage in Multinational Corporations", Journal of Management Studies, 2012 received the Emerald Citations of Excellence for 2015

The latest from SUB

Dive deeper into SUB's work through our blog posts and news articles.

SUB researchers to present at the virtual Academy of Management conference

From August 7-11, several members of the SUB research group will participate in the 80th annual meeting of the Academy of Management, this year held virtually because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

AoM logo 2020

Doctoral dissertation: Innovative entrepreneurship may be a viable solution for reducing poverty

Entrepreneurs need an innovative business idea, access to significant support and an environment that endorses entrepreneurship.

Kolmipyöräinen traktori nimeltään Bullet Santi ja kehittäjänsä Mansukhbhai Jagani

Creative Sustainability included in Financial Times’ list of best practices for sustainability in business schools

School of Business was included among the best practices for sustainability in teaching and student projects.

Creative sustainability students brainstorming

Kicking off the "Better Business - Better Society" series

Researchers and partners from the Finix sustainable textile system project, co-led by SUB scholars, kicked off the Aalto Business School "Better Business - Better Society" seminar series.

Cellulose-based fabric from the Ioncell process

SUB researchers to present at the Academy of Management conference in Boston

From August 9-13, several members of the SUB research group will participate in the 79th annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Boston, USA. They will join scholars from across the world to share and discuss the latest research on the conference theme Understanding the Inclusive Organization, examining how organizations impact communities on many different dimensions, from the psychological to the ecological.

Academy of Management 2019 logo

SUB researchers lead new sustainable textiles consortium

Researchers from the Sustainability in Business (SUB) research group are leading one of Aalto’s three consortia funded in the latest round of grants from the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council.

Rolls of fabric in warehouse

Many Shades of Cocreation: Research Designs for Collaboration

When academics and practitioners work together on research, there’s no standard template to follow. Aalto researchers provide a model.

Nanomaji water filters in East Africa

'The solutions for circular economy are not achieved alone'

A circular economy workshop series develops new collaborations between engineers and business researchers.

Circular economy workshop Dilemmas of disassembly Photo: Outi Puukko

How to accelerate the circular economy

It sounds simple — one business’s waste becomes another’s input. But the reality is challenging. Three case studies provide best practices.

Bales of paper and cardboard waste

Aalto sustainability news

Designs for a Cooler Planet 2020: Race for the Future
Research & Art Published:

Designs for a Cooler Planet — Helsinki Design Week 2020

Helsinki Design Week at Otaniemi showcases inspiring future designs related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal.
Pohjoisen ikirouta-alueen vehreää kasvillisuutta. Kuva: Ive van Krunkelsven
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

Greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost area larger than earlier estimated

Plant roots in soil stimulate microbial decomposition, a mechanism called the priming effect. A recent study published in Nature Geoscience shows that the priming effect alone can cause emission of 40 billion tonnes carbon from permafrost by 2100.
Rosegbach. Photo: Daniel Viviroli.
Press releases Published:

A quarter of the world’s lowland population depends critically on mountain water resources

Global water consumption has increased almost fourfold in the past 100 years, and many regions can only meet their water demand thanks to essential contributions from mountain regions
250 ilmastotekoa
Studies Published:

Simple yet effective ways to act on climate change – tips for everyday life

Author and Creative Sustainability student Rinna Saramäki and AaltoSDG mobile application encourage everyone to take action to mitigate climate change.


Puupohjainen lanka
Exhibitions and fairs

Capturing microplastics and pharmaceuticals from waste water

Hormones and other pharmaceuticals ending up in bodies from natural waters are a globally significant environmental problem.
Train Brag by Anni Tolvanen, Iina Silventoinen and Akseli Manner
Exhibitions and fairs

Ecological traveling by train

Travelling by train is a far more ecological way to travel than flying, but its image could use a facelift.
Susla is a detailed footprint calculator that provides both carbon and material footprints across five domains: housing, mobility, leisure, food and goods.
Exhibitions and fairs

SUSLA – Your guide to a sustainable lifestyle

Susla is a detailed footprint calculator that provides both carbon and material footprints across five domains: housing, mobility, leisure, food and goods.
We need systemic and fundamental changes in the textile and fashion industry’s business model.
Exhibitions and fairs

Solving the systemic challenges in textile and fashion industry

We need systemic and fundamental changes in the textile and fashion industry’s business model, including a deceleration of manufacturing and the introduction of sustainable practices throughout the supply chain; decreasing clothing purchases and increasing garment lifetimes.

Get in touch


Väre, Otaniementie 14
02150 Espoo


Elizabeth Miller
[email protected]

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