Publications

CSL develops and publishes practical research because we are committed to promoting the application of the best scientific knowledge, tools and methodologies to facilitate leadership decision making initiatives and managerial processes. Our publications are generated by IMD Faculty - who are world leaders in their fields of expertise - and by our highly qualified research team.

Our publications include books, articles, case studies, surveys, videos and blogs. Below is a short list of CSL recent publications including press coverage and "Award Winner" case abstracts. These are available for public use.

What is in a mission?
Lessons from Toyota
As described in the first part of this series, James Burke led Johnson and Johnson (J&J) through one of the most significant recalls of all time after the company discovered that certain capsules of Tylenol had been deliberately laced with a deadly poison resulting in the "Chicago Tylenol Murders". Within a week, the company had recalled all products. Although the move cost Tylenol $100 million at the outset alone and plummeted the stock, Tylenol rebounded within two months and recovered its entire market share soon after. J&J had followed its corporate mission religiously, but not all organizations have done the same. » Read more
Sustainable leadership means engaging honestly with your stakeholders: VW failed the test
IMD Professor Reacts: Francisco Szekely on the Volkswagen scandal
Volkswagen fitted 500,000 VW and Audi diesel cars with code that tricked regulators into under-recording noxious emissions. The turbodiesel engine cars had been marketed as "clean diesel" automobiles. This action - which has negatively affected all European auto companies which produce cars with diesel engines and plummeted VW's share price by 20% - also causes problems for regulators, consumers and the environment. » Read more
Volkswagen didn't keep it real
Aileen Ionescu-Somers on the VW scandal
The broadsheets and social media are currently rife with commentary about the dramatic fall from grace of one of the world's largest and most trustworthy automotive brands; Volkswagen. The fallout is massive. This means billions in losses for the company. The CEO has resigned and it remains to be seen what the legal and long-term consequences are for the decision-makers involved in this debacle and even for the brand, no matter how resilient it might be. As a result of the scandal, even "brand Germany" reputed its for trustworthy, squeaky clean engineering excellence, is coming under scrutiny. » Read more
Does Sustainability Start with the Company's Mission?
Best Practices from Tylenol
Many organizations spend a significant amount of time and resources developing their mission statements, often hiring public relations and marketing firms. But how important is such a mission and how impactful can it actually be? » Read more
Sustainable Innovation - Part 2
Sustainable innovation isn't just limited to products. Financial institutions can innovate too.
While the previous article focuses on product-centric approaches, sustainable innovations do not necessarily need to be product-driven. As mentioned in the first article, the social needs that motivate actors into promoting sustainable innovations are those oriented with the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability. » Read more
Sustainable Innovation - Part 1
How companies are creating value and reducing their damage to the environment
What constitutes a sustainable innovation? We define a sustainable innovation as an innovation that attempts to tackle a societal problem. However, there are different degrees of innovation. A common descriptor for sustainable innovations is "transformational". In fact, we would argue that most sustainable innovations are transformational and vice versa: most transformational innovations are sustainable innovations. » Read more
Leading by values: how sustainability and religion come together
IMD Professor Reacts: Francisco Szekely on the Vatican's upcoming climate summit
Despite the urgent need to act to abate climate change, negotiations at the United Nations level on the environment are not making much progress towards achieving global cooperation. Now religious leaders are taking the lead. The Vatican recently announced that it will host a major conference on climate change on 28 April 2015. » Read more
"Keeping it real"- IMD and Burson-Marsteller launch corporate purpose study focused on authenticity
IMD and Burson-Marsteller, a leading global public relations and communications firm, today announced the launch of "Keeping it real" - How authentic is your corporate purpose?" The study identifies the key drivers of authentic corporate purpose and reveals a questionnaire that companies can use to assess themselves if they want to discover, define and deliver their corporate purpose. The study builds on an on-going collaboration on leadership and strategic issues related to corporate purpose since 2008 between IMD's CSL Learning Platform at the Global Center for Sustainability Leadership (CSL) and Burson-Marsteller. » Read more
4 ways to be more sustainable like Unilever
To embed sustainability within businesses we have to change how managers think
Our planet and the people who live on it are depending on individuals making the right decisions in response to sustainability challenges. Not simply in relation to their personal impact, either; the choices made by corporations are shaped by managers' personal value systems as well as company culture. » Read more
Sell less: a sustainable strategy?
How Patagonia has shifted from minimizing its environmental impact to improving how customers consume
To become more sustainable, many companies try to curb emissions and eliminate waste to reduce their carbon footprint. However, there are other strategies that firms can adopt to become more sustainable, including increasing profitability, changing their business model, challenging the customer, and even selling less. Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear company, embraced all these strategies to become a sustainability pioneer. » Read more
More women on boards: "Chicken and egg" questions around performance and sustainability
More women on corporate boards will increase profitability and sustainability, says Aileen Ionescu-Somers
Something highly significant for the future of corporate governance occurred at the end of November 2014. Germany decided to make it obligatory for 30% of non-executive board seats at large publically-listed German companies to be occupied by women from 2016 onwards. How much of a leap is this? To put some perspective on it, in 2012 a review of the Standard and Poor's Composite 1500 Index by Ernst & Young revealed that in 2012, women held only 14% of board seats at companies listed on the index. These recent moves will end the long era of male-dominated supervision of German corporations. » Read more
How can pharma be sustainable and make money?
Developing new drugs for diseases like Ebola and Malaria is expensive and the return on investment is low for pharmaceutical companies. Is there a cure?
The pharmaceutical industry currently faces dilemmas. It is under pressure to review its business models in light of current challenges while becoming more sustainable and addressing diseases affecting the developing world and the poor. However, will doing the latter potentially reduce its profits in an increasingly harsh commercial environment where customers are becoming more demanding than ever? » Read more
Unilever's 2020 super-stretch goal doubling growth, reducing negative impacts
* IMD case*
As sustainability challenges escalate around the world, the outcome for the planet and for its populations will depend in large measure on the behavior of individual people. That includes executives at all levels within corporations. Managerial behavior reflects corporate culture but also personal value systems, as has been patently observed during the recent and still ongoing financial crisis. Delivering on these ambitious objectives will take more than just a determined and target driven set of leaders within and throughout the organization. » Read more
Back to the future: GM and the electric vehicle
*IMD case*
How should organizations balance pressures to decrease short-term costs at the expense of long-term profitability? How "long" is the long-term? What is the cost of innovation? These are the questions that CEO Mary Barra must face when leading General Motors (GM) into the 21st century. » Read more
How can enterprises grow and shrink in sustainable ways
Lessons from Mondragon
Almost all companies today base their business strategies on the concept of growth, the assumption being that growth is always good. Few enterprises think about strategies for downsizing. So what is the best approach for companies embarking on the sustainability journey? Does growth matter for such firms, and what are the social implications if they shrink? In short, how can companies expand and contract and remain sustainable? » Read more
The Social Side of Sustainability
How cooperatives can redefine value distribution in value chains
For many companies, becoming more sustainable means reducing negative environmental impacts in their value chain. Far fewer companies address the social side of sustainability. This is unfortunate, because organizations can create and redistribute real value by making their value chains more socially sustainable. » Read more
ECOPOP proposal a narrow view of sustainability
IMD Professor Francisco Szekely on the population control measures to be voted on in Switzerland
How can society best diminish its environmental footprint? Is limiting population growth - particularly the inflow of foreign immigrants - the best way to protect a country's natural resources and quality of life? Hardly. » Read more
Taking the Leap - Part 2
Transforming your company into a sustainable enterprise - part 2
While almost all companies today advocate sustainability, their practices and attitudes vary greatly. What exactly does sustainability mean and what does it look like? » Read more
Taking the Leap - Part 1
Transforming your company into a sustainable enterprise - part 1
These days, the vast majority of large global companies produce a sustainability report. If your organization doesn't, it is a member of an ever-shrinking minority. This is a staggering trend, considering that there were hardly any such reports at the turn of the millennium. » Read more
The 2014 World Cup: Passing the Ball on License to Operate?
Organizations and companies must do more to make global sporting events sustainable, says Aileen Ionescu-Somers
The World Cup in Brazil is again putting the spotlight on the sustainability, legacy and license to operate of large global sporting events. » Read more
When emerging markets lead the way - Part 3
*Achieving corporate sustainability impact through scale, reach and collaboration*
In this series of articles about corporate sustainability in emerging markets, we have discussed the findings of new research from the IMD Global Center for Sustainability Leadership and outlined the characteristics and pillars supporting emerging-market firms' practices. » Read more
Germany to allow fracking by 2015
IMD Professor Francisco Szekely on Germany's move to lift fracking ban
With evidence of climate change becoming clearer than ever, European countries should think carefully before allowing fracking in their territory. Although hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - offers the benefits of abundant supplies of unconventional oil and gas but with lower carbon emissions than other combustibles, it is not a sustainable solution due to its large environmental costs and its potential contribution to climate change. Moreover, the short-term economic promises fracking offers are also taking our sense of urgency away from transitioning to more renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power. » Read more
When emerging markets lead the way- Part 2
How local contexts and innovation drive corporate sustainability
The current global discussion on corporate sustainability is increasingly being shaped by ideas and trends from some of the least developed parts of the world. Despite the developed world having a few decades' more experience in corporate sustainability, and its firms tending to allocate far greater resources to this area-in relative terms-than their emerging-market peers, most of the fresh, innovative thinking is coming from emerging markets. Thus, the underlying question is: what drives sustainability innovation in these geographies? As new research by the IMD Global Center for Sustainability Leadership shows, two factors strongly contribute: local relevance and an experimental approach. » Read more
Tackling climate change demands transformational change
Companies must make sure they play their part in finding solutions
Transformational change within and between companies is essential if the world is to meet the challenges posed by climate change. That, at least, is the stark conclusion reached by the NGOs, public bodies, businesses and other stakeholders who have contributed to recent roundtables at the IMD Global Center for Sustainability Leadership Learning Platform. Climate change cannot be resolved by one group or sector acting alone, and nor can it be swept under the carpet and ignored. » Read more
Strategic innovation for sustainability: honouring the lifetime achievements of Professor Nigel Roome
A sense of renewed urgency has entered the public debate around the sustainability of a range of economic, industrial and social systems, both at global and more localised levels. Turbulence and uncertainty have gravely affected financial markets, leading to a collective crisis of confidence that has already seen elected governments ousted from office. Recent demonstrations of public discontent have highlighted widespread anger about economic inequality and perceived failures of political and corporate leadership, as well as deep-rooted fears about social and economic exclusion. » Read more
Time for Sustainable Leadership
Why two tragic losses at the top call for a new leadership model
In the last two months, Switzerland has woken up to tragic losses at the top of two of its leading companies. Carsten Schloter, CEO of Swisscom, was found dead on July 23rd in an apparent suicide. A few weeks later, on August 26th, Pierre Wauthier, CFO of Zurich Insurance, committed suicide. » Read more
Massachusetts and IMD discuss innovation in climate change and energy
Senator Pacheco chairs the Massachusetts state legislative committees on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture as well as Climate Change/Energy and Innovation. He was in Switzerland to learn more about strategic innovation affecting the environment, particularly related to climate change and energy. He was invited to Switzerland by Claude Béglé, ex-CEO of Swiss La Poste and currently Executive Director of the Swiss cleantech company SymbioSwiss. » Read more
Social and environmental compliance collaboration
A remedy for audit duplication and supplier audit fatigue .
Full text not available (Please contact our Information Center mentioning the title and reference number of the working paper) » Read more
IMD Global Center for Sustainability Leadership