As companies face growing pressure from consumers and investors to take more radical action on climate change and bring about positive changes for society, Julia Binder has been named to the 2022 Thinkers50 Radar list for her work on how sustainable entrepreneurs could provide a blueprint for other business leaders. Thinkers50 identifies, ranks and shares the very best in today’s management ideas; its definitive global Radar list is published annually.

Binder’s research focuses on understanding the processes and business models being piloted by sustainable entrepreneurs - such as new work structures with unlimited vacations, and strategies that equally weight social and environmental issues with profit – to see how they could be implemented at larger organizations.

“While companies are often denounced as being part of the sustainability problem, seizing their size and scale for achieving a positive sustainable impact will likely be one of the decisive factors in our collective efforts to halt environmental degradation and reduce social inequalities,” says Binder, who is also Director of IMD’s new Center for Sustainable and Inclusive Business.

Using digital technologies to scale sustainable innovation is an important area of focus this year for Binder, who prior to joining IMD led EPFL’s sustainability initiative Tech4Impact. “Nothing scales as quickly as technology does,” she says.  “I am working on how can we actually marry digital transformation with sustainable transformation to help reach many of our sustainability goals.”

A further aspect of her research includes looking at the psychological traits of sustainable entrepreneurs to help other executives learn how to reframe problems so they can better identify solutions. “From the studies with the entrepreneurs we found they are looking at these problems through different lenses and by doing that they are coming up with non-obvious, interesting and insightful solutions,” she says.

Binder’s research has been published in the Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, and Academy of Management Review.

A German national, she received her PhD summa cum laude on her thesis on sustainable entrepreneurship from the Technical University of Munich. Her awards include the Bavarian Culture Prize for the Best PhD thesis in 2017, the Best Emerging Scholar Paper Award at the World Open Innovation Conference 2019 and the Best Case Study in the social entrepreneurship track of the oikos teaching case writing competition 2016.