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Award Recognizes Global Research Providing Sustainability Solutions

The inaugural winners of the Research Impact on Practice Award show that Environmental Management Systems (EMS) increase employee productivity by 16%.

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) increase employee productivity by 16%. When professor Magali Delmas’s research produced this result, she knew it was information business executives needed. Environmental management systems comprehensively address organizations’ environmental impacts; their effects on productivity are unexpected.

Delmas and her collaborator, Sanja Pekovic, were the inaugural winners of the Research Impact on Practice Award, which recognizes sustainability research that has important implications for managers and other practitioners. Delmas is a faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Pekovic was doing post-doctoral work at the University Paris-Dauphine.

Award sponsors are the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS), which provides research-based resources for managers, and the Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) Division of the Academy of Management, a professional organization for sustainability researchers. While academics produce high-quality research, much of it remains in publications and conferences targeted at other academics. This award seeks to celebrate and share research that has the ability to change business.

Award recipients were announced at the Academy of Management’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. The award recognized a winner and two runners-up, honoured for articles published within the last year.

“We looked for research that was really actionable,” said Teresa Ko, who was a sustainability performance analyst at Westport Innovations and a member of the evaluation committee. “After I finished reading the [winning] article, I wanted to send it to our environmental engineer in charge of EMS.”

EMS implementation increases productivity because it results in more employee training and connections across the company, Delmas and Pekovic found. These activities, in turn, increase employee engagement and commitment.

The award runners-up also had illuminating findings:

  • Eco labels need to be simple for customers to understand. Researchers Stefanie Heinzle and Rolf Wuestenhagen studied a proposal to change European Union energy efficiency labels from a seven-point A-G rating scale by adding new classes: A+, A++ and A+++. They found that the proposed changes led consumers to switch away from energy-efficient products. Heinzle and Wuestenhagen are both at University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

  • Nearly 100% of professionals in Canada’s oil and gas industry agree that the climate is changing—but disagree on cause and required actions. In a study of 1000 engineers and geologists, many working on Canada’s oil sands, Lianne Lefsrud and Renate Mayer identified a range of perspectives—and a potential way to unify them. They argue that everyone can agree that climate change is a risk to be managed. Lefsrud is at University of Alberta and Mayer is at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

“Going forward with this award, we anticipate seeing an ever-widening range of research addressing managers’ needs,” said University of Alberta professor Dev Jennings, incoming Program Chair of the ONE Division.

About ONE

The Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) Division of the Academy of Management is dedicated to the advancement of research, teaching, and service in the area of relationships between organizations and the natural environment.

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