Tackling Sustainability in Research at the TUM School of Management

Six years ago, on September 25 in 2015, at the UN Summit in New York, UN members entered a pact affecting the future of the world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals linking the principle of sustainability with economic, ecological, and social development. As a signatory of the ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’-initiative (PRME), those goals are the leading objective for us at the TUM School of Management. But what does that look like in terms of our research?

We put our findings into action

To meet the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we increasingly engage in interdisciplinary research projects involving different departments at the TUM School of Management as well as other TUM schools. In doing so, we see more and more scientific publications with an emphasis on sustainability and sustainable development.

In 2019 and 2020, almost one third of peer-reviewed articles evolved around SDG 9 ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.’ For example, Prof. Dr. Alwine Mohnen and Dr. Laura Lang tackled SDG 9 as well as SDG 11 and 12: ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ in their research. In 2019, they published the article  ‘An organizational view on transport transitions involving new mobility concepts and changing customer behavior’ in the journal of Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. In this publication, the two researchers address the need for innovative concepts for the future of transportation as an answer to the ongoing shift in values and individual customer demand. The study concludes with important implications for future mobility: electric and shared vehicles with integrated autonomous driving functions may be the ultimate and financially profitable solution to counteract the increasing problems of urban transportation and satisfy more sophisticated customer requirements.

Besides ecological and economic dimensions, sustainability also embraces the social dimension. To create a physically and psychologically healthier society, we also need social concepts. That is why Dr. Maxim Egorov, Prof. Dr. Armin Pircher Verdorfer, and Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus provide a new perspective on leader development initiatives in their article ‘Taming the emotional dog: Moral intuition and ethically-oriented leader development.’ Their article has been published in the Journal of Business Ethics and shows how important it is to instruct leaders with targeted reflection exercises that focus on their own moral intuitions to foster ethical work cultures and sustainable behavior. These findings encourage our approach to apply this type of development to our executive education programs and thus put SDG 3 ‘Good Health and Well-being’ and SDG 8 ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ into action.

Following on from this, Alexander Kriebitz and Prof. Dr. Christoph Lütge shed light on the responsibilities of corporate actors regarding human rights standards when developing and using AI. In 2020, they published the article ‘Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights: A Business Ethical Assessment’ in the Business and Human Rights Journal. This piece takes the reader by the hand and answers the following questions: What implications do human rights obligations have for companies developing and using AI? And how can AI be applied in human rights-related areas? In elaborating on the relationship between AI, human rights, and human autonomy, the authors bring SDG 1 ‘No Poverty’, SDG 10 ‘Reduced Inequalities’ and SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ forward.

These are only some examples of the daily research relating sustainability that we conduct at TUM School Management.  At our School, we follow the mission to apply our research competencies to contribute to the grand societal challenges while targeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We believe in the practical implications of our research for the achievement of a better future. This is why we work for constantly raising the level of awareness regarding responsible management, ethics, and sustainability among our students and faculty – starting with our  research activities and teaching methods. More information on this, key scientific publications with an emphasis on sustainability and sustainable development, and the complete PRME report on our activities of 2019 – 20 are available here.


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