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.
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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

SUB Publications

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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Plate of food with wooden spoons

Seminar schedule 2022-2023


Friday 12.5, 9.30-15.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U006

Sustainabilty in Business 30 Years Anniversary Seminar: Looking back, thinking forward
**Please register for the anniversary seminar here**

9.30 Coffee & savory pastry

10.00 Opening words
Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business

10.15 Sustainability in the strategy of Aalto University School of Business today
Dean, Professor Timo Korkeamäki, Aalto University School of Business

10.30 Sustainability makes its way to business studies (SUB in the 1990s and early millennium)
Professor Emeritus Raimo Lovio, Aalto University School of Business
Professor Eva Heiskanen, University of Helsinki
Senior University Lecturer Leena Lankoski, Aalto University School of Business 
Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business
Moderator: Associate Professor Jennifer Goodman, Audencia Business School

11.20 Activity: Thinking forward, part I
Magnetic board tool

11.30 Lunch (self-financed), Café Kylteri

12.30 Innovating for sustainability (SUB in 2010s) Part 1 - SUB goes to Global South
Professor Frank Belz, Technical University Munich
Dr. Sara Lindeman, Leapfrog Projects Ab
Assistant Professor Marleen Wierenga, Radboud University
Moderator: Doctoral Researcher Juliana Rodrigues, Aalto University School of Business

13.15 Activity: Thinking forward, part II
Magnetic board tool

13.30 Innovating for sustainability (SUB in 2010s) Part 2 - Sustainability transitions and circular economy
Professor Mikko Jalas, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture & School of Business 
Dr. Armi Temmes, Aalto University School of Business
Professor Jouni Juntunen, University of Vaasa
Assistant Professor Samuli Patala, Aalto University School of Business 
Moderator: Adjunct Professor Angelina Korsunova-Tsaruk, University of Helsinki

14.15 Break

14.30 Systems change & future of sustainability
Assistant Professor Jukka Rintamäki & early career scholars, Aalto University School of Business

15.20 Closing words
Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business

15.30 Coffee & savory pastry 

Thursday 27.4, 11.30-12.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U213

Patrick Shulist, Aalto University School of Business

Can I Sell You Avocadoes and Talk to You About Contraception? Well, It Depends Which Comes First: Anchor Roles and Asymmetric Boundaries  

Role theory generally predicts that when the demands and norms of two roles are highly contrasted, individuals will construct a strong boundary to separate the roles. However, such predictions are grounded primarily in the Global North, emphasizing role pairings such as ‘work-family’ and hybrid ‘work-work.’ Comparatively, the Global South is characterized by a relative lack of public services that creates a highly contrasted, highly salient, and yet understudied role pairing – ‘work-community.’ Additionally, the socioeconomic features of the Global South (e.g., dense and overlapping community networks, financial poverty) call into question whether existing predictions surrounding boundary strength are likely to hold. We conducted a qualitative study of 73 Tanzanian participants who had both a self-employed work role and a family planning counsellor community role. We found that highly contrasted roles can be simultaneously perceived as both incompatible and compatible. Specifically, the boundaries we observed were neither uniformly strong nor weak, but rather of asymmetric strength: strong when a social interaction was anchored in the community role, but weak when anchored in the work role. The specific role contrasts we identify, and the importance of role anchoring we observe, have important implications for role theory and literature on boundary setting more broadly.

Thursday 13.4, 11.30-12.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U213

Taija Turunen, Aalto University School of Business

Fight, flight or adapt: Provisional identity work in business model evaluation

Companies are often faced with a challenge to decide whether their current business model is still appropriate, especially in situations where competing alternatives seem to emerge. Business model innovation is a key factor in growth and renewal (Johnson, 2010; Tripsas & Gavetti, 2000), in its best enabling ambidexterity (Markides, 2013; Markides & Charitou, 2004) and seen critical when companies aim to succeed in sustainability transitions (Bolton & Hannon, 2016; Gauthier & Gilomen, 2016). However, despite of the growing interest and trend to invest in business model innovation activities, many business model innovations fail gaining initial or fast enough acceptance of practicing managers (Doz & Kosonen, 2010; Sosna et al., 2010) leading eventually on sober consequences (Christensen et al., 2015, 2002; Kaplan & Tripsas, 2008; Tripsas & Gavetti, 2000). Earlier research has found that not only incumbent firms, but also entrepreneurial managers may be reluctant to change their business models even when they should (Benner & Tripsas, 2012; Christensen et al., 2015; Lucas & Goh, 2009; Tripsas & Gavetti, 2000), suggesting that the explanation for failure might not be found merely from firm level of analysis but require also managerial level consideration. In this study we explore the provisional identity work that managers need to engage with when business models change. Our findings reveal how managerial identity work is initiated by the macro level discourses, but eventually lead to managerial responses that build on multiple roles that managers hold. We contribute to the business model innovation literature by explaining the mechanism for managerial sensemaking in business model transformation. 

Friday 31.3, 13.00-15.00
Ekonominaukio 1, U213

Sustainability in supply chains (joint seminar with FINIX)

1. Anna Härri from LUT University Sustainability Science department will present her findings from the data collected from 15 factories (mostly clothing and textile CMT) and 3 trade unions in Southern India about:
- how the transition to circular processes can be made just with special focus on procedural justice
- possible social rebound of novel circular processes

2. Linda Turunen and Iqra Khan from Aalto University School of business will present their data from Lithuania which comprises of interviews from 3 textile and garment manufacturing factories, 1 Lithuanian fashion brand and 4 textile waste sorting facilities about: 
- Sustainability assessment from production side including mainly environmental and social aspects, customer relationships and digital advancements

3. Iqra Khan will discuss her data from Pakistani textile factories which includes 22 interviews primarily from the textile manufacturing factories and also from multiple stakeholders such as audit company, APTMA (All Pakistan textiles mills association), GIZ. Iqra will focus upon customer-enforced sustainability in global supply chain in textile industry, and its unintended consequences and well as potential solutions

Thursday 16.2, 11.30-12.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U213

Iana Nesterova, Aalto University School of Business

Degrowth and the circular economy

A recent critical realist redefinition of degrowth calls for a more nuanced approach to the concept of degrowth itself as well as to various social entities and their degrowth transformations. This redefinition encourages thinking about degrowth in terms of both less and more and about degrowth transformations on the four planes of social being (material transactions with nature, social relationships between people, social structures, people’s inner being). Considering this redefinition, we contemplate what it means for business transformations and for the study thereof. In this paper, we zoom in on circularity as a manifestation of a sustainability practice in business and as an example of a useful principle widely acknowledged as desirable by business sustainability scholars. We relate circularity with each of the planes of social being, focusing in particular on the plane of people’s inner being where causality may reside.

Thursday 2.2, 11.30-12.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U213

Iqra Khan,Aalto University School of Business

Customer-enforced sustainability

During the seminar, Iqra will explain differentiating the customer-centric vs customer-enforced sustainability and the potential challenges/limitations the later causes to the manufacturing factories located in Pakistan. In brief, while customer-centricity focuses on customer as dominant entity for value co-creation in supply chain, customer enforcement  frame them as the decision makers/controllers of the whole supply-network process. This study is based on qualitative research design followed by two rounds of data collection, analyzing 16 textile manufacturing factories operating in 3 industrial districts ( Gadoon (KPK), Lahore, Faisalabad) of Pakistan. The first round of research visit to factories is used to understand the thoughts and feelings of the research participants (23) regarding sustainability which further enabled an understanding of the actual research problem ascribed to participant’s experiences through informal conversations and observations. A major finding during the first research visit was that all the sustainability criteria are defined by the customers (brands as customers) .The customers define and list the suppliers in the whole value chain starting from yarn suppliers to the carton suppliers for packaging. However, this kind of customer-centricity leads to certain challenges for the factories such as losing control, lacking sustainability mindset from within the organization and raises the question of responsibility, fulfillment of whose business objectives and biased orientation which further connects to various economic, environmental and social sustainability aspects. As the respondents pointed to some of the difficulties, they face to meet the sustainability criteria, we plan to conduct second round of data collection in February 2023 where we seek to explore the challenges this type of customer-driven sustainability requirements bring for the geographically distanced and contextually different manufacturing factories  and the potential ways to eliminate these differences.

Thursday 24.11, 11.30-12.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U213

Samuli Patala1, Laura Albareda2, Minna Halme1
(1) Aalto University School of Business, (2) Lappenranta University of Technology

Story of a paper: "Polycentric Governance of Privately Owned Resources in Circular Economy Systems"

This seminar will recount the story of the paper "Polycentric Governance of Privately Owned Resources in Circular Economy Systems," winner of the Carolyn Dexter Award for international papers at the 2018 Academy of Management conference and recently published in the Journal of Management Studies.

Tuesday 8.11, 14.30-15.30
Ekonominaukio 1, U213
*Space is limited, so please email [email protected] if you plan to attend.*

Maria de Villa Correa, Professor of Strategy at Universidad EAFIT and visiting professor at Aalto University
Discussant: Lea Rankinen, Director, Sustainability & Public Affairs at Paulig Group

Developing adaptation strategies to climate change: The Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers

Management research has focused on understanding how firms develop strategies for the marketplace. However, we still know less about how organizations develop strategies to confront grand challenges like climate change. Hence, we explore the case of the Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers, that is a leader in coffee growth research and one of the largest rural NGOs in the world, to improve our understanding of how organizations develop adaptation strategies to climate change. In this session, we will share initial insights derived from our empirical data (sustainability reports, interviews at different organizational levels, and ethnographic field work). Attendees will gain knowledge about an interesting case on adaptation strategies to climate change and we hope to receive feedback on the theoretical lenses that could potentially guide our further data analysis.

Awards and highlights

Minna Halme

Alfred Kordelin Prize for key future actors who have created the conditions for a stronger, diverse, and sustainable society as well as a better future, 2022

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.

Kestävyysmurroksen pyhä kolminaisuus (external link)

Kestävyyden ajan tavoitteiksi pitäisi nostaa eko-sosiaalinen hyvinvointi, pitkän aikavälin taloudellinen kannattavuus ja resilienssi.

An image of a small child skipping in a sunny field

The New Sustainability in Business online course strengthens knowledge of sustainable business

How can companies create sustainable value for the economy, the environment and society?

vihreitä kasveja vedessä

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

Open pit mining machines
Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

New collaboration targets the mine-to-market value chain

FCAI, Metso and partners address sustainability in mining with artificial intelligence.
Karita ja Jani
Research & Art, Studies Published:

Completing a doctoral degree alongside work – the thesis opened the doors to the product and technology development of a deep-tech company

Karita Kinnunen-Raudaskoski and Jani Lehmonen have both graduated as doctors of chemical engineering from Aalto University and for them, writing a doctoral thesis alongside regular work meant long hours but was also highly rewarding.
PwC:lle tehdyn opiskelijaprojektin projektitiimi
Studies Published:

How do companies handle the EU’s new sustainability regulations?

Two School of Business students examined Nordic firms for PwC Finland
A satellite picture of the forest, with pink, violet and green colours
Research & Art Published:

How to see trees and plants in a whole new light

A hyperspectral snapshot captures all the light in a scene, not just colours or infrared light. The extra information is useful in many applications, from agriculture and conservation to forensics and food safety.


infographics explaining the complexity of the battery sight
Lectures and seminars

BatteryMonetizer - Electricity trader challenge

Come and hear about the design of an invisible intelligence and participate in a challenge!
advertising poster with the title 'activist afternoon' in stinger wide font. Sustainability action booster, designs for a cooler planet, aalto and Helsinki design week logos. colorful sneakers in the background.
Lectures and seminars, Students

Activist Afternoon

Join Sustainability Action Booster to a discussion about turning your passion into action!
ACRE jumala
Campus, Information sessions, Service competence

ACRE Day 5th October 2023

You are warmly welcome to join the autumn's most exciting campus event as a part of Aalto Wellbeing Week! Ps. Free lunch & coffee served.
Campus, Other, Students

Share, recycle, and discover treasures!

Welcome to participate in the recycling event being organized for the second time!

Who we are

 Minna Halme

Minna Halme

 Mikko Jalas

Mikko Jalas

Associate Professor
 Patrick Shulist

Patrick Shulist

Assistant Professor
 Samuli Patala

Samuli Patala

Assistant Professor
 Jukka Rintamäki

Jukka Rintamäki

Assistant Professor
 Armi Temmes

Armi Temmes

Professor Emerita
 Leena Lankoski

Leena Lankoski

Senior Lecturer
 Ewald Kibler

Ewald Kibler

Academy Research Fellow
 Tiina Ritvala

Tiina Ritvala

Associate Professor
 Olli Sahimaa

Olli Sahimaa

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Inês Peixoto

Inês Peixoto

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Heli Nissilä

Heli Nissilä

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Iqra Khan

Iqra Khan

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Linda Turunen

Linda Turunen

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Iana Nesterova

Iana Nesterova

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Elizabeth Miller

Elizabeth Miller

Doctoral Candidate
 Sofia Villo

Sofia Villo

Doctoral Candidate
 Jukka-Pekka Ovaska

Jukka-Pekka Ovaska

Doctoral Candidate
 Kaja Kirstine H. Lilleng

Kaja Kirstine H. Lilleng

Doctoral Candidate
 Karelia Dagnaud

Karelia Dagnaud

Doctoral Candidate
 Juliana Rodrigues

Juliana Rodrigues

Doctoral Candidate
 Emilia Eräpolku

Emilia Eräpolku

Doctoral Candidate
 Martta Nieminen

Martta Nieminen

Doctoral Candidate
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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