Bringing Long-Term Thinking into Business

Bringing Long-Term Thinking into Business

This NBS research outlines factors affecting short and long-term thinking in business, respective impacts, and remaining research needs. 
NBS February 24, 2015

A Systematic Review for Practitioners and Academics

Systematic Review
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Corporate short-termism is one of the most significant issues confronting both business and society today. Short-term action offers quick wins, while long-term action offers lasting success and sustainability. Businesses must take both kinds of action — but too often, they prioritize the short term.

Bringing Long-Term Thinking into Business provides useful tools and authoritative insights into how businesses can better incorporate long-term thinking into their organizational fabric.

What's in the Report?

Our approach synthesizes existing knowledge about incorporating long-term impacts into today’s decisions, and the benefits of long-termism over short-termism. Based on a comprehensive review of academic journal articles, as well as highly salient industry reports and popular press, the report addresses three research questions:
  1. What are the contributors to, and consequences of, short-term decision-making in organizations?
  2. When are the consequences of short-term decision-making at odds with sustainability?
  3. What are the decision-making processes that incorporate both the short term and long term?
Our approach differs from much of the practitioner literature on short-termism, which puts a lot of weight on actors in the finance chain, or the potential for government interventions. Instead, we view top managers of businesses as the most likely group to initiate changes for the better. 

Who Should Read the Report?

Designed primarily for academics and practitioners, this Systematic Review describes: We hope it will enable practitioners to better communicate their rationale for long-term planning to the key stakeholders and decision-makers in their organization.

About the Research

Dr. David Souder, Dr. Greg Reilly, and Rebecca Ranucci, at the University of Connecticut (United States). They scanned 6,000 sources to draw on the best articles, reports and books by academics, industry, government and NGOs. This report addresses one of the top priorities identified by the NBS Canada Leadership Council in 2014. NBS systematic reviews synthesize existing research and practical knowledge to provide guidance on key sustainability issues. 

Systematic Review
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Long-Term Thinking Graphics
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Executive Report

This report provides a three-step process to balance short and long-term actions, cases, common obstacles to long-term action, and ways to overcome them.

Reports and Articles

Corporate leaders, politicians, and the general public have all been accused of short-termism.

Maya Fischhoff

Use this primer to introduce your colleagues and industry peers to the topic of long-term thinking or simply familiarize yourself with long-termism basics.