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

A girl and a man selling items in Brazil

Innovation for sustainability

Innovating new sustainable products, services, business models and forms of consumption can help tackle global challenges.

Department of Management Studies
Solar panels in front of mountains

Sustainability transitions

Our research looks at several dimensions of the transition toward sustainability societies.

Department of Management Studies
Recycling bins

Circular economy

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

Department of Management Studies
CSR news articles

Corporate responsibility

Cross-national governance of businesses make ethical issues urgent.

Department of Management Studies


The latest publications from SUB researchers

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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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Seminar schedule 2021-2022

Fall 2021

Thursday 23.9, 11.30-12.30
Remote seminar, contact [email protected] for more information

Tulin Dzhenghiz, Olli Sahimaa and Teresa Haukkala, Aalto University School of Business
Institutional Logics and Framing Contests in the MLP Framework: The Case of (Un)Sustainable Transitions in Textiles/Fashion

Discussants: Jouni Juntunen and Minna Halme

In this article, drawing on the multi-level perspective (MLP) of sustainable transitions, institutional logics and framing contests, we re-conceptualise the multi-level and multi-dimensional dynamics of (un)sustainable transitions and give examples to the interactions between and within different levels of MLP from textiles/fashion. We demonstrate how, currently, the landscape diffuses competing institutional logics (market and sustainability) that legitimises different regimes and niche actors to behave differently when engaging with sustainability initiatives. We differentiate between protagonist and antagonist regime coalitions and discuss how their framings may compete at times. Most importantly, we argue how niche, a level that transitions research has mostly regarded as positive, can also bring about negative environmental impact. We label these as negative impact niches and provide empirical examples from fashion by discussing the emergence of fast fashion in the past and the recent emergence of ultra-fast fashion in the last few years. We contribute to the literature on sustainability transitions by demonstrating the complexity of interactions when it comes to diffusion of logics and framing contests and by problematising the much optimistically viewed concept of niche. In addition, we shed light on the (un)sustainable transition dynamics in the textiles/fashion industry, which has not been the focus of attention in the broader transitions research.

Thursday 7.10, 11.30-12.30
Remote seminar, contact [email protected] for more information

Minna Halme and Leena Lankoski, Aalto University School of Business
The Story of a Best Paper: On the Stage and Behind the Scenes

In this seminar, Minna Halme and Leena Lankoski will share the story behind their paper “When Is There a Sustainability Case for CSR? Pathways to Environmental and Social Performance Improvements” (co-authored with Jukka Rintamäki and Jette Steen Knudsen), which won the 2020 Best Paper award of the journal Business & Society.

Thursday 18.11, 11.30-12.30
Remote seminar, contact [email protected] for more information

Marjo-Riitta Diehl, Aalto University School of Business
Is there a role for HRM in CSR strategy? An analysis of the sustainability reports of listed European companies (co-authored with Essi Saru and Hannele Seeck)

The relationship between human resources management (HRM) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) remains unclear both in research and practice. Drawing on 80 sustainability reports of large European companies and their CSR strategies, we examine how HRM’s role is presented in connection to CSR. We find that the links between HRM and CSR are scarce but exist and the reports refer to mainly symbolic rather than substantive HRM. Based on the reports, HRM are not at the core of corporations’ CSR strategies and the acknowledgement of sustainable HRM is missing. Our analysis makes the following three contributions. First, as HRM fulfills its CSR role mainly through implementing standard human resources (HR) practices toward employees as internal stakeholders (training, safety, health, and wellbeing) its proactive and strategic role in CSR remains limited. Second, we show that employees are seen rather as objects of CSR activities rather than active subjects engaging in CSR. Third, as CSR–HRM relation remains rather non-strategic and the system-level integration of CSR and HRM remains obscure; and the incorporation of CSR and HRM does not take place. We suggest that a specific focus on sustainable HRM would allow HRM to play a more active role in the development and implementation of CSR strategies. Sustainable HRM characteristics could thus elevate the role of HRM and different HR activities toward a more substantial and strategic role and extend its current internal employee-orientated focus towards an enabling and externally orientated focus.

Awards and highlights

Minna Halme, Leena Lankoski and Mika Kuisma

Article "When Is There a Sustainability Case for CSR? Pathways to Environmental and Social Performance Improvements" (co-authored with Jukka Rintamäki and Jette Steen Knudsen) received Business & Society’s 2020 Best Paper Award

Inês Peixoto

Finalist for the EGOS Best Student Paper Award with the paper “Risk organization and moral multiplexity in the EU biofuels market” (presented at EGOS Edinburgh 2019)

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 scholars win Business & Society’s 2020 Best Paper Award

SUB scholars Minna Halme, Leena Lankoski and Mika Kuisma have won Business & Society’s 2020 Best Paper Award.

Business & Society best paper award

Sustainability in Business (SUB) group awarded funding to research transition risks for low-carbon shipping and aviation

The newly funded T-Risk research project aims to shed light on transition risks in the maritime and aviation sectors, crucial for global trade and transportation.

Shipping port

Jouni Juntunen nominated to Network for Business Sustainability Sustainability Centres Community (SCC) Advisory Board

Jouni Juntunen has been nominated to Network for Business Sustainability Sustainability Centres Community (SCC) Advisory Board for a three year period starting from 2021.

Network for Business Sustainability logo

Interesting methodology workshop organized by SUB researchers

The Sustainability in Business research group organized a virtual workshop on conducting field research in methodologically challenging settings.

Methodology workshop

The World Needs Hands-on Solutions to Wicked Problems

New Global has taken a holistic approach to exploring pathways from poverty to sustainable development. By com-bining interdisciplinary research and education with innovation work in the field, we have studied and experimented with co-innovation across Finland and emerging markets.

Aalto New Global

Does Corporate Responsibility Deliver? Broken Pathways to Business Sustainability (external link)

Guest blog for Business and Society by Leena Lankoski and Minna Halme.

Broken road

Millainen liiketoiminta muuttaa maailmaa? (external link)

Perinteinen kapitalistinen ajatus, että yrityksen tehtävänä on ainoastaan tuottaa voittoa osakkeenomistajilleen, tuntuu nykyään suunnilleen yhtä 1900-lukuiselta kuin lankapuhelin.

Kuuluisassa Kasvun rajat –raportissa (Meadows ym., 1972) todettiin jo lähes 50 vuotta sitten, että luonnonvarojen tuhlaileva käyttö ei voi jatkua loputtomiin.

Valitettavasti 2020-luvulle tultaessa on käynyt ilmeiseksi, että ihmiskunta on ollut hidas reagoimaan. Materiaalienkäytön ja päästöjen kasvu kielii siitä, että todellinen radikaali muutos vaatii aikaa. Näinhän se menee. Hammaslääkäriinkin vaivautuu vasta, kun tarpeeksi kivistää.

Onneksi löytyy myös kosolti kestäviä edelläkävijäyrityksiä, joiden innovaatiot ovat parhaillaan tehokasta juurihoitoa luonnonvarojen käytön kasvun kanssa kipuilevalle ihmiskunnalle. Näitä edelläkävijäyrityksiä löytyy tekstiilialalla esimerkiksi vastuullisten yritysten listasta, jota Finix-hankkeen tutkijat kokosivat koronakevään aikana #kestävävaate-kampanjassa.

Green roof in urban center

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

Logo of the European Researchers' Night
Cooperation, Research & Art, University Published:

Join Aalto University at the 2021 European Researchers' Night on 24 September

Aalto University invites you to join the 2021 European Researchers' Night session "Unite! for sustainable energy"!
Kuva Mekong-joelta
Press releases Published:

Changing climate increases the need for water diplomacy

Water issues are increasingly political, meaning tensions need to be tackled in new ways
Camilla Inkeroinen ja Hanna Vanhanen
Aalto Magazine Published:

Researchers develop the perfect recycled fertilizer for forests - saves 88% of energy normally used but still not legal

Finnish forests are typically nourished with fertilisers containing energy-intensive nitrogen and phosphorous mined in Morocco. Researchers have now developed an ecological alternative with ingredients sourced from a waste processing plant. It is good for forests and the environment – but legislation has to change first.
Student in a white lab coat and blue plastic gloves photographed from the back while experimenting in the CHEMARTS lab smashing green pine needles into a white mortar while looking at recipes from the CHEMARTS cookbook.
Studies Published:

Nordic Biomaterials with CHEMARTS – a crucial course for future-changers

The Aalto University Summer School course Nordic Biomaterials in collaboration with CHEMARTS gathered students from Sweden, the USA, Germany, Norway and Belgium for a summer course on campus for the first time since the pandemic.


NPHarvest pilot
Exhibitions and fairs

NPHarvest: join our Q&A session about converting wastewater into eco-friendly fertiliser

Several methods for nitrogen and phosphorous removal are utilized but none harvests the nutrients. NPHarvest is the Aalto project suggesting a feasible solution.
Decorative banner with the text "Unfolding Tomorrow" and logos of Aalto University, Aalto Ventures Program and Aaltoes. The banner is futuristic and in grayscale aside from neon yellow accents.
Online event

Unfolding Tomorrow — Gender equality in entrepreneurship

Learn what you can do today for a sustainable tomorrow.
Conferences and workshops

YHYS colloquium: Sustainable Welfare

The annual YHYS colloquium invites contributions to the topic of Sustainable welfare: States and capabilities of transformation.

Network for Business Sustainability logo

Member of the Sustainability Centres Community

SUB is a member of the Sustainability Centres Community (SCC), hosted by the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS).

Get in touch


Väre, Otaniementie 14
02150 Espoo


Elizabeth Miller
[email protected]

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