Cranfield University Annual Report

By | 12th May 2017

cranfield university logo

Cranfield University Annual Report

The report below outlines the achievements of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility across our 10 year timeline.

The Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility is a practice-focused research centre within Cranfield School of Management, set up in 2007 with the support of the late Nigel Doughty – alumnus, successful businessman, and responsible citizen who was passionate about business being a positive force in society. We work to empower current and future managers and leaders with the knowledge, skill and desire to lead responsible, sustainably managed organisations. We ground our research, teaching and advice in sound management theory and insightful observation of corporate good practice.

This short publication provides an overview of our work during the 2014-15 academic year. Further information can be found in our termly e-newsletters and on the Centre pages of the Cranfield University School of Management website. You can also follow the Doughty Centre on Twitter. For factual information on Centre projects and publications and developments in the field of responsible business, see @DoughtyCentre; for Professor David Grayson’s personal commentary and perspective, see @DoughtyDavidG. Points of View offers short film interviews and comments.

Information on the wider School of Management’s commitment can be found in the School’s latest Communication on Progress 2013/14 to the UN Principles of Responsible Management Education.

Foreword by the Centre Director: Professor David Grayson CBE

Reflecting on the state of responsible business and corporate sustainability at the end of our 2014-15 academic year, three “Cs” stand out for me: Collaboration, Circularity and Complexity.

I am struck by how many business leaders now are emphasising the importance of collaboration in moving beyond the pilot-stage (what one Doughty Centre friend calls “pilot purgatory”) to achieve scale and impact. This may be businesses collaborating with other businesses and/or with NGOs, governments, international development agencies and academia. Mapping and understanding how, why and with what results business collaborates for sustainability has been an enduring theme of the Centre since we began. My 2013 book written with Jane Nelson from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard: Corporate Responsibility Coalitions: The Past, Present and Future of Alliances for Sustainable Capitalism (Greenleaf Publishing and Stanford University Press) described the evolution of generalist coalitions at national and international level.

We are now looking at some of the increasing number of subject and industry-specific coalitions and at some of the multi-stakeholder initiatives, not least in the context of our Rethinking Prosperity / Renewing Capitalism work.

The second “C” is circularity. As I explained in the cover article for the Spring 2015 edition of Management Forum, from hardly being on the radar screen five years ago, Circular Economy is now a defining business strategy for many firms. One of these is Desso. I am delighted that a Centre-led project to produce an interlinking series of teaching cases on Desso’s adoption of Cradle-to-Cradle/Circular Economy has been finalised. We supported the Cranfield University Alumni 2014 Conference on the theme of Thriving in Circular Economy and are supporting University exploration of an executive MSc in the technology and the management of Circular Economy. In the Autumn (November 4th), we will be welcoming Peter Lacy, a member of the Centre Advisory Council, who has just published his book Waste to Wealth about Circular Economy. Our Centre work programme on Responsible Innovation led by Dr Palie Smart, feeds into the circularity topic.

My final “C” is complexity. Embedding responsible business practices and corporate sustainability cannot be done with silo-thinking. Companies can be scoring well on some aspects of embedding sustainability yet be failing miserably elsewhere – as the recent VW scandal has again illustrated. Embedding requires fundamental change in business purpose, culture, strategy, business models, rewards and incentives and so forth. It is appropriate that the School of Management’s Complexity Centre director Dr Liz Varga is helping to lead Cranfield’s input to an EU-funded FP7 research project on sustainability and consumers. As the field of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability matures and evolves, it is important that Cranfield School of Management’s own approach also matures and evolves. We are excited that a grant from The Garfield Weston Foundation for 2015-16 academic year will help the Doughty Centre to work more closely with faculty colleagues across the School further to embed responsible business practices and corporate sustainability.

On behalf of colleagues, I would like to thank the Doughty Centre Advisory Council, visiting faculty and supporters for continued commitment to our work. A particular word of thanks and praise to Thea Hughes, Doughty Centre team administrator since we began, who has now retired from Cranfield University to develop her French language teaching business. Thea’s commitment, loyalty, patience and hard work are greatly appreciated and we wish her and her husband Steve every happiness.

Doughty Centre Work 2014-2015

We continue to combine research, teaching and development of teaching resources, and advisory and dissemination work.


Business with Purpose

Building on our Rethinking Prosperity/Renewing Capitalism project, we were commissioned by Coca-Cola Enterprises to explore the views of current CEOs and future business leaders across Western Europe about the purpose of business. Our report Combining Profit and Purpose was launched at a Coca-Cola Enterprises / Financial Times Sustainability Summit in London on Oct 1st 2014 and led to articles in the Financial Times and other media. Prof. David Grayson and Nadine Exter – two of the Centre authors of the report (along with Melody McLaren and Charlotte Turner) – were speakers at the Sustainability Summit.


Engaging Employees

Visiting Fellow Anita Hoffmann – founder/principal of executive search and coaching practice Executiva – is leading on a joint Executiva/Doughty Centre research project on careers with purpose. This builds on our previous work on engaging employees. The research explores the trend amongst executives in mid/late career wishing to leave classic corporations to pursue purpose-driven executive or non-executive careers in the Not-For-Profit (FP), Social Enterprise or companies that work for ‘the greater good’ in some form, in health care, education and other domains. Today they have only two options: either work in the NFP sector in their free time or retire/quit to pursue this direction. They cannot find routes inside their companies to express this wish and when leaving they find it difficult to create pathways or bridges to earn income while working for the greater good. If this continues, corporates will be losing substantial numbers of the age group that needs to mentor the next generation leaders. The aim of this research is to:

  • Clarify / Quantify the trend for executives wanting to pursue purpose driven careers;
  • Explore ways in which organisations can create more flexible structures to allow working for the greater good whilst inside a company;
  • Explore the ways purpose driven careers can be pursued and created both inside and outside companies;
  • Collect information on leadership competencies that enable purpose driven leadership as and when, building on Hoffman’s previous study, Sustainability Leadership Competencies for Business Leaders.

The Sustainable Enterprise

Thanks to the generous support of a Cranfield alumnus, the Doughty Centre has been able to commence new work in partnership with our colleagues in the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship. This focuses on those entrepreneurial small and medium size businesses which are simultaneously high performers commercially and on responsible business practices. Following preparatory work including literature review over the last fewmonths, the main interview stage will start early autumn. The goal is to understand what these high performers do, why and how they do it. The research team hopes to draw lessons for business support organisations, business representative organisations and academic entrepreneurial programmes. The project is led by David Grayson, Dr Muhammad Roomi from Bettany Centre and longstanding Doughty Centre Associate Melody McLaren.