The Positive Links Speaker Series, presented by Michigan Ross’ Center for Positive Organizations, offers inspiring and practical science-based strategies to build and bolster thriving organizations. Attendees learn from leading positive organizational scholars and connect with our community of academics, students, staff, and leaders.
About the talk:
Business leaders have tremendous power to influence our society, how it operates, whether it is fair, and the extent to which it impacts the environment. And yet, we do not recognize or call out the responsibility that comes with that power. This session is meant to challenge future business leaders to think differently about their career, its purpose, and its value as a calling or vocation, one that is in service to society. Its message is for current and prospective business students, business leaders thinking anew about the role of business in society, and the business educators that train all these people.
We face great challenges as a society today, from environmental problems like climate change and habitat destruction, to social problems like income inequality, unemployment, lack of a living wage, and poor access to affordable health care and education. Solutions to these challenges must come from the market (as comprised of corporations, the government, and nongovernmental organizations, as well as the many stakeholders in market transaction, such as the consumers, suppliers, buyers, insurance companies, and banks), the most powerful institution on earth, and from business, which is the most powerful entity within it.
Though government is an important and vital arbiter of the market, business is the force that transcends national boundaries, possessing resources that exceed those of many nations. Business is responsible for producing the buildings that we live and work in, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the forms of mobility we employ, and the energy that propels us. This does not mean that only business can generate solutions or that there is no role for government, but with its unmatched powers of ideation, production, and distribution, business is positioned to bring the change we need at the scale we need it. Without business, the solutions will remain elusive. Indeed, if there are no solutions coming from the market, there will be no solutions. And without visionary and service-oriented leaders, business will never even try to find them.
Andy Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan; a position that holds joint appointments in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Professor Hoffman’s research uses organizational behavior models and theories to understand the cultural and institutional aspects of environmental issues for organizations.
He has published over 100 articles/book chapters, as well as 18 books, which have been translated into five languages. In this work, he focuses on the processes by which environmental issues both emerge and evolve as social, political, and managerial issues, including: the evolving nature of field level pressures related to environmental issues; the corporate responses that have emerged as a result of those pressures, particularly around the issue of climate change; the interconnected networks among non-governmental organizations and corporations and how those networks influence change processes within cultural and institutional systems; the social and psychological barriers to these change processes; and the underlying cultural values that are engaged when these barriers are overcome. He also writes about the role of academic scholars in public and political discourse.
Among his list of honors, he has been awarded the Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award (2016), American Chemical Society National Award (2016), Strategic Organization Best Essay Award (2016), Organization & Environment Best Paper Award (2014), Maggie Award (2013), JMI Breaking the Frame Award (2012), Connecticut Book Award (2011), Aldo Leopold Fellowship (2011), Aspen Environmental Fellowship (2011 and 2009), Manos Page Prize (2009), Aspen Institute Rising Star Award (2003), Rachel Carson Book Prize (2001), and Klegerman Award (1995).
His work has been covered in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Scientific American, Time, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Atlantic, and National Public Radio. He has served on numerous research committees for the National Academies of Science, the Johnson Foundation, the Climate Group, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and the Environmental Defense Fund. Prior to academics, Andy worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 1), Metcalf & Eddy Environmental Consultants, T&T Construction & Design, and the Amoco Corporation. Andy serves on advisory boards for ecoAmerica, Next Era Renewable Energy Trust, SustainAbility, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Center for Environmental Innovation, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Sara Soderstrom, Associate Professor of Organizational Studies and Program in the Environment
The Center for Positive Organizations thanks Sanger Leadership Center, Tauber Institute for Global Operations, Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, and Diane (BA ‘73) and Paul (MBA ‘75) Jones for their support of the 2021-22 Positive Links Speaker Series.
Series Promotional Partners:
Additionally, we thank Ann Arbor SPARK and the Managerial and Organizational Cognition (MOC) Division of the Academy of Management for their Positive Links Speaker Series promotional partnerships.
This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Stephen M. Ross School of Business