NBS aims to be the “Harvard Business Review” of sustainability. We translate the world’s best academic research into practical resources that help managers make their organizations more sustainable.
To best serve our readers, NBS reserves the write to edit all contributions for length, word choice, grammar and tone.
General Writing Guidelines
Use Lay Language
- Avoid jargon.
- Use the simplest word available. E.g. “Use” rather than “utilize.” “Invite” rather than “extend an invitation to.”
- Be as specific as possible and provide real-life examples.
For example, replace this:
“Various direct and indirect communication vehicles exist to strengthen stakeholder engagement.”
“Strengthen relationships with customers by hosting factory tours or inviting them to participate in your next environmental audit.”
Use Active Voice
“Companies affected by shareholder resolutions related to the environment are perceived as risky investments.”
“Analysts perceive companies as risky investments when shareholders mount environmental resolutions.”
Make Your Writing “Scan-able”
- Break your article up using bullets, lists and key takeaways.
- Include subheads before major thoughts.
- Suggest graphics or images that convey the content visually. These graphics could include mathematical formulas, pie charts, photographs, flow charts, decision trees, etc.
Include links to relevant resources to make your article more compelling and persuasive.
- Include links to leading business and news publications such as the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. You may also include links to CSR publications such as Environmental Leader or GreenBiz.com
- Include links to the companies, product lines or sustainability programs being featured. E.g. Puma’s novel shoebox design.
- Include links to CSR resources that may be of interest to NBS readers. E.g. The KLD Social Index or INSEAD.
Because we value credibility, we encourage contributors to cite their sources whenever possible.
A Research Insight is a short summary of an academic journal article designed to provide practical tips for sustainability managers.
Every month, our team of Topic Editors reviews the 45 top tier journals related to sustainable business. Examples include the Academy of Management Journal, Harvard Business Review, the Journal of Industrial Ecology and the journal of Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes.
From those publications, the Editors identify the articles that have direct implications for managers. Prior to publication, the Editors also review the written Research Insights to ensure they accurately reflect the research findings.
Word Count: 350 to 400 words
- Paragraph 1: Reveal the article’s key finding and its implication for CSR managers. Always strive for a quantifiable relationship. E.g. “Companies that do X have operating costs 20% lower than companies that don’t.”
- Paragraph 2: Provide a quote from the NBS Topic Editor, article author or a manager regarding the significance of the finding.
- Paragraph 3: Introduce the researchers who conducted the study and their home institution(s). Explain what they set out to examine.
- Body: Give more details about how they conducted their study, including methodology and specific findings. Where possible, provide specific numbers and context. E.g. “The researchers surveyed CEOs at the 200 largest companies on the French stock exchange.”
- Closing Paragraph: End with the key takeaway for managers. What should a business person do differently, based on this research??
- Graphics: Suggest any graphs or images that will help bring the finding to life. This may include charts or diagrams from the original article or a simple diagram or photo that NBS creates from scratch.
- Source: At the end of each Research Insight, include the original article, according to the following Academy of Management format:
- Hasle, P. 2011. The Working Environment in Small Firms: Responses from Owner-Managers. International Small Business Journal. 306-6: 622–39.
Sample Research Insights
Topic Blog Posts
Topic blogs are first-person articles written by academics on sustainability issues that matter to managers. The best blogs are short, opinionated and address a single concept.
Word Count: Approx. 400 words
- Describe an important new finding and its implications for managers.
- Offer advice, based on your interactions with companies. Topic Editor Rob Klassen observed that most of the SMEs he knows are reluctant to talk about their companies – let alone talk to competitors. That observation became a post about the value of collaborating with competitors: Successful SMEs Share Secrets.
- Challenge managers to make a specific change in their organizations.
- Ask provocative questions. Topic Editor Stephanie Bertels asked: “Can Cultures of Safety Be Leveraged to Develop Cultures of Sustainability?”
Thought Leader Posts
In these forward-looking blog posts, leading academics and industry visionaries describe their visions of sustainable business models for the 21st century. They identify existing barriers, coming challenges, emerging opportunities, and the actions we need to take now.
Thought Leadership contributors should focus on “big ideas” – major movements and key issues appearing on the horizon. For example, Gerald Davis’s post Building Furniture on iTunes: Creative Destruction in a World of Locavore Production talks about how new technology is redefining the way goods are manufactured in the near future.
Word Count: Approx. 400 words