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Research Areas and Expertise

Sustainability for the C-Suite

When sustainability management entered the sphere of strategic management research, researchers tried to set the ground for the field by answering the question ‘does it pay to be green’? At the time, research that would be unable to show the (positive) impact on profits would have had little chance to survive. But is this really the right question to ask? I admit that there are instances where sustainability improves firm performance e.g. through cost reduction. In fact, I published in this line of research myself. However, I am convinced that this is not always the case. Consider renewable energy: without massive governmental subsidy programs, most firms would not have spent millions in developing the necessary assets.

At some point in my career, I felt the question should be re-phrased as ‘what risks accrue to firms that do not engage in sustainability`? Ever since, I attempted to identify and quantify these risks. They include financial losses, litigation, bad press and many others. At some point, I hope these threats will lead managers to change direction and create products and services that do not harm the environment or society.

Related Publications

Barnett, M., Hartmann, J. & Salomon, R. (2018). Have You Been Served? Extending the Relationship Between Corporate Social Responsibility and Lawsuits. Accepted for Publication in Academy of Management Discoveries, 14(2), 09-126.

Abstract      Full Paper     Video Abstract     Video

Hartmann, J., & Vachon, S. (2018): Linking Environmental Management to Environmental Performance: The Interactive Role of Industry Context. Business Strategy & the Environment, 27(3), 359-374.


Hartmann, J., & Uhlenbruck, K. (2015). National Institutional Antecedents to Corporate Environmental Performance. Journal of World Business, 50(4), 729-741.


Sustainability Along Global Value Chains

For a couple of decades, decision makers from a variety of industries sought to concentrate on core competencies and outsourced other, non-core activities to outside suppliers. This led to an unprecedented growth of global value chains. Before the mid-1990s, supply chain management focused almost exclusively on finding ways to exploit favorable sourcing conditions worldwide. Outsourcing to countries with lower production costs enhanced firm success by reducing costs overall. At that time, most firms turned a blind eye to potential issues in working conditions or environmental protection, but series of scandals increased consumer awareness of global sourcing practices and forced firms to take action and adopt sustainable practices in their supply chains.

I have been active in this area of research for almost one decade now and shed light on both the key drivers and outcomes of company engagement in making their value chains more sustainable. Although insights are applicable to a variety of different industries, I often collected data from the fashion and apparel industry as this industry often lends itself as study ground – for rather sad reasons (cf. Rana Plaza). A companion in this domain has been and continues to be Sabine Benoit, maiden name Moeller. Sabine is Professor of Marketing at the University of Surrey. Together, we regularly strike the bow from consumer expectations over organizational buying behavior and to improvements in environmental and social conditions in the upstream supply chain. This fruitful interdisciplinary collaboration has led to novel insights about the successful integration of sustainability thinking across supply chain tiers.

Related Publications

Hartmann, J., & Moeller, S. (2014). Chain Liability in Multitier Supply Chains? Responsibility Attributions for Unsustainable Supplier Behavior. Journal of Operations Management, 32(5), 281-294.

Full Paper     Video

Benoit, S., & Hartmann, J. (2015). Sippenhaft in der Lieferkette. Harvard Business Manager, February 2015, pp. 6-9.


Hartmann, J., & Germain, R. (2015). Understanding the Relationships of Integration Capabilities, Ecological Product Design, and Manufacturing Performance. Journal of Cleaner Production, 92, 196-205.


Hartmann, J., Grobecker, A., & Germain, R. (2015). Antecedents of Environmentally Conscious Operations in Transitioning Economies: Insights from Russia. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 35(6), 843-865.


Energy Transition

Climate change is one of the most serious threats to society and businesses. Organizations around the globe need to take action toward combatting climate change. As climate change is mostly caused by greenhouse gases emitted in the process of burning fossil fuels, a major challenge is the long-term energy transition. Andrew Inkpen, Kannan Ramaswamy, both Thunderbird School of Management, Arizona State University USA, and I started to work in this field.

Specifically, we study the transition of companies from the oil and gas sector towards renewable energy. Together, we compiled a data set on the degree of adoption of renewable energy technologies by approximately 100 oil and gas companies from all over the world. In analyzing the data, we seek to provide answers to questions such as the following:

  • What drives companies from the oil and gas sector to tap their toes into the renewables field?

  • What transitioning patterns can be identified?

  • How did the portfolio of renewable energy evolve in the oil and gas sector over time?

  • How successful are these firms?


Looking forward to provide more information on the outcomes of this stream of research, soon!

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