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Strategic Sustainable Trigger Questions: How Strategic Sustainable Development might be introduced in the Lean Startup through the Business Model Canvas

Written by T. van der Molen, A. Bagrianski

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>Leadership




Master Thesis: We live in the "Anthropocene"; the era when human intervention leads to the deterioration of ecological and social systems, thereby weakening their resilience. This can be explained by climate change, biodiversity reduction, poverty, erosion, population collapse, and accelerated extinction rates (Broman and Robèrt, 2015). Human beings face increased risks of declining ecosystem quality and the biosphere becoming difficult or impossible to maintain a state of human civilization (Steffen et al., 2015). Continued population growth adds to the challenge (United Nations 2013). Humans are responsible for severely polluting the atmosphere, changing the climate, and drastically changing land use, and have been the main cause of biodiversity loss on the planet (Tompkins and Adger 2004, Rockstrom et al. 2009, WWF 2010, Fischer-Kowalski Et al. 2011, Steffen et al. 2015). Therefore, the IPCC report pointed out: “The warming of the climate system is clear. Since the 1950s, many observed changes have been unprecedented in decades to thousands of years. As the level rises, the concentration of greenhouse gases increases.” From the understanding of the climate system, humans are obviously responsible for the changes in our environment (IPCC 2014). We must act based on our initial discovery of the root causes of unsustainability to prevent the systemic decline of the foundation of human civilization, otherwise we will not be able to avoid extinction with the larger ecosystem in which we live (Bromman and Robert 2015). Among many scientists, Frichov Capra believes that human activities have deviated from autopoiesis, and the results include alternative patterns in the global system, global warming, and changing weather systems (Capra 1997). According to a study conducted by the Stockholm Resilience Center, our planet has entered a new era called the "Anthropocene". The current atmospheric CO2 concentration is higher than 400 ppm, and scientists have concluded that it is beyond the uncertainty zone and poses a high risk of advancing global climate change (Steffen et al., 2015). If we continue at this speed and direction, Capra believes that the earth’s autopoietic mechanism will gain a firm foothold, and future generations of mankind will not be allowed to continue living on this planet. At this moment, we seem to be unable to meet the needs of the present, and are systematically damaging the chances of future generations to meet their needs. 1.2 Business and start-ups In the recent decades of business practices, the resilience of our ecosystem and society has been greatly damaged. Trucost (2013) reports that if we take external costs into account, basically no major industry will be profitable. In fact, if you consider their footprint, they will continue to lose money, and-downstream in the value chain, the impact and indirect costs are even more terrifying. Therefore, the same report argues that “the huge profit margins created by the world’s most profitable industry [...] are paying for the future: we are trading for the benefit of shareholders for long-term sustainability.” (Trucost 2013) The company’s leaders will scream, worrying about losing out to low-cost countries in the competition; complaining that their suppliers are actually the problem; or sustainable manufacturing will require new and expensive equipment and processes, and customers are unwilling to lose money in the economy. Pay more for environmentally friendly products during the recession. As a result, the need for sustainability is often not clearly understood, and is merely seen as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) issue, out of touch with business goals (Nidumolu 2009). Fortunately, we can celebrate that there is no longer any logic behind this. 2015 was the first year of economic growth while carbon emissions fell (Aden 2016, The Guardian 2015). The mainstream sustainability approach is out of touch with strategy. By using the same framework as business decisions, companies have many opportunities to benefit society. Sustainability can be a source of opportunity, innovation and competitive advantage (Porter and Kramer 2006). 1.2.1 The benefits of change The severity and pressure of global challenges are increasing and require a different approach from companies that currently operate in a less unsustainable manner (Ehrenfeld 2008). Corporate sustainability is beginning to play an indispensable role in shaping the company's driving force (Stubbs and Cocklin 2008). Emerging markets for green products and services and increasing attention to the sustainable development agenda have made non-financial indicators more and more integrated into the decision-making process of value and profitability concepts that drive business models and the dual goals of short-term and short-term profitability . Long-term sustainability (Bryson and Lombardi 2009). When an organization embarks on a sustainable development journey, this is usually characterized by the following five stages of gradual steps. Read Less