Breaking New Ground: Strategy in the Age of Sustainability

There is a lot of talk these days about issues of corporate sustainability and social responsibility (CSSR, for brevity).

In addition to the endless discussion around environment, social and governance (ESG) data, green "strategies", responsible investments and the latest reporting standards, we are experiencing a shameless propagation of buzzwords, mindless imitation tactics and the proliferation of self-proclaimed sustainability gurus who, based on no rigorous research or data, claim to know how to transform organisations.

It is time we moved away from this confusion about CSSR, returned to the strategic basics, and tried to understand the extent of the challenge CSSR poses for corporations. Many companies have already lost sight of the bigger picture because they face multiple pressures to conform to the latest trend without first reflecting and subsequently developing a cohesive understanding of CSSR issues.

How do we define corporate strategy? The consensus that emerged in the early 80s, and is still being taught to first-year MBA students, is that strategy is about "above average (superior) sustainable performance". In other words, it is about the perpetual ability of the corporation to deliver returns to its shareholders and do so in a way that is superior within its industry.

CSSR, which is emerging as a result of increasing social and environmental pressures such as climate change, social inequality, and extreme poverty, is redefining the foundations of corporate strategy.


Full article published in The Guardian and available here.

My Research

I am a strategy scholar whose research focuses on Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). More specifically, I seek to understand whether, how, and the extent to which the modern business organization contributes towards building a sustainable future. My academic work evolves around two main themes: a) understanding how investment analysts, and the public equity markets, perceive, evaluate and react to corporate engagement with, and integration of, environmental and social issues into strategy and b) understanding the multiple factors (e.g. institutional, regulatory, behavioural) that may affect, drive or hinder, the corporate decision to adopt environmentally and socially responsible strategies.

Upcoming Events

February 27, 2018

Prof. Ioannou will be speaking at LBS HR Strategy Forum

April 27, 2018

Prof. Ioannou will be speaking at ESMT's Sustainable Business RoundTable

May 24, 2018

Prof. Ioannou will be speaking at LBS's Private Equity Symposium