The world is moving faster. NBS needs to mobilize knowledge just as quickly.
Dr. Tima Bansal is Founder of the Network for Business Sustainability.
Why Write a Column From My Desk?
This column is the first among the many that I hope to write ‘from my desk’. If you’re a regular reader and subscriber, you might be asking why I’ve decided to create this platform through which to discuss my views.
When I founded NBS, 13 years ago, the gap between management research and practice was large. I saw much opportunity to advance sustainability by bridging that gap. Executives could undertake more evidence-based practice and researchers could tackle more managerially-relevant issues. By sharing knowledge and collaborating, researchers and managers would see the world through different eyes, which would stimulate ideas for long-term prosperity for business and for society.
NBS has made significant progress in this bridging work. We have published 14 systematic reviews of research on managerially relevant topics, translated numerous articles, hosted conversations, and held several events.
Most of the knowledge that we mobilized was drawn from academic journals, but the academic machine is slow. A research idea can take four to seven years to publish. At a time of such unprecedented change —planetary, technological, and social— published research can lose its relevancy.
NBS needs to move ideas between research and practice faster. Researchers and managers have many deep insights, but lack the forum to share those ideas quickly. As well, NBS needs to source ideas, not just from researchers, but also from managers with deep practical experience. We need to take a more active role in mobilizing ideas that are on the frontier of knowledge. There is a hunger for good ideas.
In writing from my desk, I hope to bring some of those good ideas to you. I will highlight published and in-process articles that I’ve read, the observations I’ve made, and the conversations I’ve had that have piqued my interest and provoked my thinking. I hope my musings will similarly provoke yours.
In January’s newsletter, we have highlighted the most visited articles in 2018, which I encourage you to read. What surprised me most about this list is the ‘most visited’ article: the workshop that NBS hosts for research centres worldwide. In 2018, NBS hosted its fourth biennial workshop, which builds capacity and promotes collaboration among research centres. I was surprised that the top article wasn’t about ideas, but about community. It reinforced for me that bringing people together is one of the most important things we do.
It was also clear to me in reading the most visited list that there is deep interest in the systems changes that business is experiencing. From data analytics to handling complexity to stimulating radical innovation, there appears to be a strong interest in understanding and managing the turbulence ahead.
I hope you help me in my pursuit of mining emerging sustainability knowledge. Please do reach out to me directly to share frontier ideas that can advance both the research and practice of business sustainability.
Stay tuned for ideas ‘from my desk’ in future newsletters.
Continuing the Conversation
More From Tima’s Desk
Dr. Tima Bansal, NBS’s Founder, regularly shares her observations about business sustainability. Click the button below to see the full series.