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Key Areas of Focus

  1. Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are characterised by a commitment to addressing a particular social or environmental problem. We are interested in research questions that address how  social enterprises balance the need for economic viability with social and environmental priorities, and how we can encourage further growth in this area e.g. scaling strategies and how best to support the emergence of new social enterprise.

  1. Business Innovation

We are interested in how business innovation in procurement, production and practices can lead to transformative change. In particular, we will consider ways to improve and evaluate social impact including benchmarking sustainability practices and reporting in relation to the SDGs. We will look at how organisational structures, supply chain relationships and business practices can encourage sustainable change. Our work will guide the development of appropriate tools, metrics and indices for business to measure their progress towards sustainability and how to communicate it effectively.

  1. Empowering Consumers

This area of focus concerns the empowerment of consumers as agents of change to support and encourage transformations to sustainable consumption.  For example, we will identify barriers and solutions to sustainable behaviour change, investigate accessible consumer information, and promote and increase awareness of the need for sustainable consumption behaviours. We will also engage with debates concerning more aspirational sustainability concerns, such as ‘what is ‘beyond consumerism’, what are contemporary visions of the “Good Life?”, how can this good life be achieved sustainably, and, what can we learn from Māori business models and their emphasis on intergenerational wealth and well-being?

  1. Alternative Provisioning

We are particularly interested in socially innovative models of consumption and production practice that lead to new market relations. Numerous social experiments are currently underway with respect to peer-to-peer collaboration and open-source production, as well as the implementation of alternative, more circular business models based on sharing economies and extending product lifecycles. These developments prompt a number of research questions: how effective are such alternative systems of provisioning, how can they (should they) be scaled and replicated,  how can their acceptance be encouraged among consumers, what are the changing natures of consumer lifestyles and household provisioning, and what is the role of counter/anti consumption movements?

  1. Policy/Regulation

Research within this area will consider questions such as, how can policy makers facilitate emergent and transformative business practices, what approaches might NZ adopt to ensure that global supply chains meet acceptable standards of responsibility, transparency, and sustainability, what funding/incentives and subsidies are necessary to support sustainable business practices and social enterprises, and, what forms of accreditation and reporting (for example in relation to the SDGs) are necessary and what form might these take?


  1. Sustainability and Business Education

The sixth area of focus for our network is the role of education in developing leaders for a sustainable future. This considers education at all ages, including sustainability literacy interventions for children, the incorporation of explicit continuing sustainability education in the tertiary curriculum, as well as ways to disseminate and raise awareness of the changes needed for a sustainable business future to the wider public.