Connecting for Sustainability: Daughters of Themis Workshop 2018
For the third year in a row the Daughters of Themis workshop was held at Cavo Perlevos Studios on the Greek island of Kea. It brought together thirteen interdisciplinary business scholars who worked on the theme of ‘Innovating Business Models for Sustainability’, from 5th to 8th June 2018. The call for papers had yielded significant interest and the process of selection had been competitive. An edited collection based on the papers from the 2018 workshop is currently in the works.
The workshop participants on Otzias beach Photo: Beate Sjåfjell
Productive workshop sessions
Sitting around a large rectangular table shaded from the sun and with the sound of lapping waters in the background, these scholars spent the mornings and afternoons considering a range of initiatives from integrating sustainability into corporate boards, strengthening sustainability reporting, developments in social enterprise, alternative forms of business entities, and the drivers of business innovation.
The workshop format was designed to encourage engagement and promote discussion with two commentators for each of the twelve papers presented. Connectedness was the workshop’s centrepiece for the discussion around sustainability. It permeated all levels of the workshop’s activities. On the surface, the business scholars from the various disciplines had all connected through presenting and commenting on the papers. The scholars also discussed intergenerational connectedness. By traveling through time, the scholars learnt of the Māori’s 1000-year business model ensuring the firm’s board who must consider its business impact of its 500-year past and its 500-year future.
Circularity, sustainability and the role of gender
Another form of connectedness was through a method of closing the loop for a circular supply chain, a circular business model, a circular form of governance, and a circular economy. Such an approach to circularity led the scholars to challenge the ungendered – or rather strongly male-gendered – global trends in science, law, and business. The discussion about the need for diversity of gender perspectives connected the role of women as regards board diversity, and thereby re-shaping a company’s corporate personality.
The international trend of #DoingbySuing was the topic of a paper on another form of connectedness enabling the role of law to act for the interconnected interests of finance, societal needs, and the environment. The discussion concerning these forms of legal interests exemplified the potential robustness of law as a tool for promoting sustainability.
A sustainable business model cannot work without agents. The discourse concerning these kinds of connectedness illuminated the important role played by each of these agents for sustainability. These agents include corporations, institutional investors, firms, social enterprises, and ecopreneurs. Polycentric governance traversing all these business forms might facilitate every agent in pursuing societal and environmental goals. The re-purposing or the re-innovating of every agent for sustainability is continuously needed in an intrinsically interconnected globe, especially a globe which has already entered the era of the Anthropocene.
Wonderful ambience of an outdoor workshop
The wonderful hosts at Cavo Perlevos ensured a continuous supply of water, frappé (Greek ice coffee) and other coffees and teas to keep the workshop proceedings fluid. And, these conversations continued over lunch at Anna’s Taverna, which was just a short walk away. A swim after lunch and before the afternoon session, as well as in the evenings (and mornings for those who were up very early), kept the participants refreshed and reinforced the wonderful ambience of an outdoor workshop in the idyllic location of Otzias beach on Kea.
The incorporation of the views from economists, natural scientists and legal scholars stimulated many fruitful exchanges and will undoubtedly result in numerous exciting and thought-provoking research collaborations.
Plans for the 2019 workshop
At the network meeting on 8 June 2018 the Steering Committee of 2018-2019 was elected, and tentative plans made for the 2019 workshop. The call for papers for the 2019 workshop will be prepared by Professors María Jesús Muñoz Torres, Vijaya Nagarajan and Beate Sjåfjell, with sustainable finance as the topic. Exceptionally, the workshop for 2019 is planned held in Mexico, with the aim of including more scholars from the Americas in the Daughters of Themis network.