I am honored to accept the presidency of the ARCS and would like to thank you for the trust placed in me for serving in this leadership role.
In the following, allow me to share some personal reflections about the ARCS community and my goals for the ARCS and corporate sustainability scholarship in the years ahead.
To many of us corporate sustainability scholars, the ARCS community has been an academic home that has not only helped us develop as scholars, but also provided us with role models, inspiration, guidance, friendships, and good times (especially at the annual conferences across the world). This has certainly been the case for me, especially when I started my academic career. Having graduated with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of St. Gallen, I was a total newbie to the management field and did not have any academic network whatsoever. I still remember my very first ARCS conference at Yale in 2012. I did not know anyone and was a rather timid post-doctoral student. All “big fishes” attended the conference. I presented in a plenary session jointly with Tima Bansal and Paolo Perego, and the session was moderated by Andy Hoffman (back then we did not have parallel sessions). I was so nervous to be presenting in front of so many well-known scholars that I almost fell off the stage. (I am sure that Tima and Andy, and probably several others, still remember that moment 😉.) Later that year, the study I presented was accepted for publication at the Academy of Management Journal. This was also the year I was on the academic job market. I was hired by Ivey Business School and was fortunate to become Tima’s colleague. Ever since my first ARCS conference, the ARCS community has been very welcoming. It has been a home to me and helped me develop as a scholar. I am deeply grateful to everyone in this community and am certain that many other scholars share this feeling (even if they did not fall off the stage at their first conference!).
There is no doubt, that the ARCS is a nurturing community and has helped corporate sustainability scholarship thrive — a fantastic and much-needed development given the many grand societal challenges that our world is facing! I think it is fair to say that the initial goal of fostering corporate sustainability scholarship has been achieved. The days are (finally) behind us when other scholars would question the meaningfulness of pursuing corporate sustainability research and would advise their junior scholars against pursuing research in this space. This would not have been possible without the great ARCS leadership by Tom Lyon, Magali Delmas, and Mike Lenox, and the many academic contributions and support of the senior members of the ARCS community. Thank you all — we are standing on the shoulders of giants!!
I greatly look forward to the years ahead and to carrying on the torch of leading the ARCS. Following the tradition of my predecessors, and in the spirit of serving as a “leader” as opposed to merely a “manager”, let me share with you my two primary goals for the ARCS and corporate sustainability scholarship in the years ahead:
First, and as previously mentioned, the ARCS community has a long tradition of supporting junior scholars through various activities such as the Ivey/ARCS Ph.D. Sustainability Academy (many thanks to Oana Branzei!), paper development workshops, networking opportunities, and academic seminars. We will continue to be a nurturing academic home for everyone, welcome scholars from across the world and from across disciplines, and foster a global, multi-disciplinary, supportive, and inclusive community.
Second, the ARCS will aim to improve the impact of corporate sustainability scholarship. In my view, we scholars have a commitment to conduct (theoretical and/or empirical) research that i) is rigorous and contributes to the body of academic knowledge, ii) addresses “important” questions (as opposed to merely “interesting” questions) and adds to our understanding of the world, and iii) helps provide meaningful guidance to managers, policymakers, and others. I aim to help the ARCS drive the field of corporate sustainability research forward by fostering research that is both academically rigorous and of great relevance to managers and the broader system. For example, I am motivated to launch global initiatives that help i) develop rigorous scholarship in understudied yet important settings, and ii) foster rigorous multi-disciplinary research. Furthermore, I encourage us all to become “engaged scholars”. To help bridge the gap between academia and practice and ultimately improve the impact of corporate sustainability scholarship, the ARCS will aim to engage practitioners in its various activities to foster dialogue and to provide a platform for its members to communicate the insights of their research to managers and policymakers.
Lastly, I always welcome suggestions for improvements and new initiatives that further help support junior scholars on their academic journey and foster rigorous corporate sustainability scholarship around the world. If you have any suggestions and would like to launch such an initiative, I look forward to hearing from you and will be most happy to help you get more engaged in the ARCS community.
Let me conclude by thanking you all again. I am excited about the years that lie ahead of us and to sharing them with you!
President (incoming), Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability
Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University