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WHU Sustainability Management Center –
Enabling businesses to build a sustainable future
At WHU, we aspire to be at the forefront of sustainable entrepreneurship and management and to drive positive change in the world. Our vision is to create a community of leaders who are deeply committed to economic, social, and environmental sustainability, and who possess the knowledge, skills, and values needed to create lasting impact. We believe that sustainability should be a core focus of all our activities, from research and teaching to transfer to management practice and beyond. Our goal is to generate new insights, approaches, and solutions that can address the most pressing challenges facing society today.
As a community, we commit ourselves to establish an environment at WHU that allows to reach these goals.
WHU Sustainability Management Center –
Bridging thought leadership and real-world impact
The establishment of a dedicated Sustainability Management Center at WHU stresses the urgency of ESG challenges faced in business and in society. The Center serves as a platform to share the school’s sustainability-related insights and activities with the broader WHU community and beyond. As such, the Center is focused on translating sustainability-related insights into management practice, while also matching stakeholders to help advance sustainability-related research and teaching at WHU - always with a focus on how businesses and people can and must be the engine for transformation towards a sustainable future. As a thought leader on sustainability, WHU’s research ranks #1 in Germany and #11 among business schools worldwide in terms of SDG-intensity. Establishing dialogue and forging connections through the Center helps translate that research into real-world impact, while also creating a basis for deeper research as well as more relevant and applicable teaching in areas such as sustainable business models and operations, supply chain management, social entrepreneurship, marketing and accounting.
At WHU, we believe in the power of networks. The Sustainability Management Center helps stakeholders inside and outside of WHU to navigate our network on sustainability topics by keeping track of actors and activities, forging relationships, identifying trends and commonalities and facilitating the exchange of insights, resources, and opportunities for collaboration. The Center works with a broad and diverse range of stakeholders, including large corporate partners, SMEs and startups, and also aims to foster relationships with the public sector, NGOs and individual thought leaders and change agents. Both current business leaders as well as future managers and entrepreneurs benefit from the Center’s offerings. Ultimately, the Center delivers impact by connecting stakeholders – both with cutting-edge insights and with each other – to take action together.
The work of the Sustainability Management Center is based on a broad understanding of sustainability, encompassing key challenges related to environmental sustainability as well as inclusive and equitable growth and transparent governance. Some key subject areas for the Center include:
- Circular and regenerative economy business models
- Carbon-neutrality and climate solutions
- Sustainability in transport and logistics
- Sustainable marketing and consumption
- ESG accounting and controlling
- Impact investment
- Sustainability in SMEs
- Sustainability in sports business
Our activities and offers
WHU’s researchers pride themselves in conducting studies and projects that are both academically rigorous and practically relevant. The following examples of recent research have been summarized for a broader public.
For more sustainability-related insights, visit WHU Knowledge on Sustainability.
WHU research is regularly published in leading academic journals and practitioner publications. Most recent examples include:
Responsibility beyond the point of sale: how product stewardship forges sustainable consumption behavior
Digitale Lösungen mit Potenzial: Impulse und Beispiele zur Förderung von nachhaltigem Konsumentenverhalten
A study on the impact of extreme weather events on the ceramic manufacturing in Egypt
Nachhaltigkeit und Controlling: ein Aufruf zum Handeln
Ökonomisch steht der Transformation nichts im Wege: Michael Müller im Dialog mit Utz Schäffer
Global transmission of returns among financial, traditional energy, renewable energy and carbon markets: new evidence
"Das Controlling ist beim Thema Nachhaltigkeit mittendrin": Thomas Kusterer im Dialog mit Utz Schäffer
Effects of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act and environmental, social and economic factors on biogas plant adoption and agricultural land use change
"Für uns ist Nachhaltigkeit kein Modethema". Im Dialog mit Carsten Knobel.
"Meine große Hoffnung ist, dass es teurer wird, schmutzig zu sein". Im Dialog mit Melanie Kreis.
"Wir müssen schneller werden in der Transformation". Im Dialog mit Günther Bachmann.
Erfolgreiche Frauen führen verantwortungsbewusst?! Nachhaltige Best Practices aus dem Mittelstand
Die Rolle von Familienunternehmen im SDG Kontext
Corporate governance in emerging markets: a selective review and an agenda for future research
Consumer perception of online attributes in circular economy activities
Face-to-face communication as a tool to support second-hand fashion sales: a field experiment at fashion week in Berlin
Which aspects of corporate governance do and do not matter in emerging markets
„Das Controlling ist beim Thema Nachhaltigkeit mittendrin.“
Effects of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act and environmental, social and economic factors on biogas plant adoption and agricultural land use change.
Expect the unexpected: toward a theory of the unintended consequences of sustainable supply chain management.
The three dimensions of sustainability: a delicate balancing act for entrepreneuers made more complex by stakeholder expectation.
Paris Climate Agreement passes the cost-benefit test.
Toward a process theory of making sustainability strategies legitimate in action.
Sustainability assessment of last-mile logistics and distribution strategies: the case of local food networks.
Consumer perception of online attributes in circular economy activities.
Face-to-face communication as a tool to support second-hand fashion sales: a field experiment at fashion week in Berlin.
Scenario and strategy planning for transformative supply chains within a sustainable economy.
Governance and social responsibility in large Turkish firms.
Regulatory focus theory and sustainable entrepreneurship.
Nachhaltiges Wirtschaften als Richtschnur der Generationengerechtigkeit.
Climate change and trade networks.
Long-haul low cost airlines: characteristics of the business model and sustainability of its cost advantages.
Nachhaltigkeit – Modewelle oder ein neues Arbeitsfeld für Controller?
The Sustainability Management Center collaborates and coordinates with various student- and alumni-led initiatives and events that all have one thing in common: The desire to lead responsibly and advance sustainable business practices.
Developing novel business models, Professor Dries Faems
As part of this course, all Bachelor students develop and pitch a business model for a sustainability-related startup that makes commercial sense while also benefiting the planet.
Brand Positioning and Sustainability - Insights from Henkel Consumer Adhesives, Assistant Professor Anna-Karina Schmitz
During the Master course “Marketing Strategy and Decision Making”, Philippe Guégan, Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Head of Sustainability atHenkel Adhesives presented a practitioner’s perspective on the intersection of brand and sustainability. The talk covered the climate impact of products, health and safety as well as the role of adhesive in extending the useful life of products.
Creating social value, Professor Nadine Kammerlander
In the Bachelor program, Stefanie Hauer, Partner and Member of the Board of NatureRe Capital AG presented on the twin climate and biodiversity crises. For students, this brought home the message that climate is about how we live - but biodiversity is about whether we live.
WHU's General Management Plus Program enables participants to create social impact and develop as a leader while enhancing their general management skills. Facilitated by BOOKBRIDGE, a social enterprise founded by WHU alumnus Carsten Rübsaamen, program teams establish a fully independent social enterprise in local community in a developing country.
The Sustainability Management Center continuously seeks funding and support to broaden and deepen its activities, particularly in the areas of community mapping and monitoring as well as matchmaking, but also to make the WHU community and campus more sustainable. Specific cases for support include:
- Sponsorship of a doctoral student to work on strategically expanding the Center’s activities
- Sponsorship of a staff member dedicated to maintaining and improving the Center’s mapping and monitoring activities
- Sponsorship of community building and networking events
- Financial support to sustainability-related research, including that of PhD students, e.g. for research-related travel and other expenses
- Funding for specific infrastructure measures on the WHU campuses, such as additional solar panels, charging stations, bike racks or water fountains
- Support in implementing climate measures to compensate for CO2e emissions that we are currently not able to avoid
By investing in the Center, partners will get connected to world-class research, talent, and collaborative opportunities that drive sustainability innovation, thereby gaining access to practical insights and tools to integrate sustainability into their business models and operations. The Center’s focus on shared value creation for companies, society, and the environment makes it an attractive investment for those committed to building a sustainable future.
If you want to get involved, contact us.