In her doctoral dissertation, Riikka Tapaninaho examines how companies can create value in collaboration with their stakeholders while simultaneously considering the most fundamental challenges regarding sustainability, such as climate change, depletion of natural resources and the decline of biodiversity. The results of Tapaninaho’s thesis show that corporate executives see sustainability as a strategic aspect of conducting business. Moreover, they emphasise companies’ responsibility in promoting sustainability. The role of sustainability is seen as a constantly growing factor when it comes to stakeholders’ decision making, which requires fundamental changes to the way we conduct business.
The main argument of the thesis is based on a systemic, relational view on business and value creation. According to Tapaninaho, the focus in conducting business should be targeted towards interdependent stakeholder relationships as well as relationships to the surrounding society and natural environment. The need for this is especially emphasised by the complex challenges regarding sustainability, the tackling of which requires cross-organisational collaborative efforts where economic, social and ecological goals regarding sustainability must be fulfilled.
"The recent global crises have shown how dependent we are of each other and our natural environment, both locally and globally. Understanding these interdependencies and relationships should be at the core of a modern-day leader’s toolkit," Riikka Tapaninaho states.
"Corporate executives are required to possess holistic understanding of conducting business and of the role companies have in our society," Tapaninaho emphasises.
The thesis’ case studies regarding circular economy business and green infrastructure show how companies, in collaboration with their stakeholders, can create value in a way that considers the economic, social, and ecological value dimensions. This requires joint value creation activities extending on multiple levels in society as well as understanding the concept of value as multidimensional from the viewpoint of various stakeholders. Since this is not an easy task, the thesis emphasises the need to address the tensions and competing demands surrounding sustainability an open, creative manner in collaboration with the stakeholders.
The results of the thesis provide an alternate model to typical notions of business and value creation in management literature and practice that continue to emphasize economic value as well as business and customer perspectives over those of other stakeholders.
According to Tapaninaho, the typical value creation models of today represent limited, organisation- and economy driven understanding of business, in both research and practice. They tend to neglect the collaborative relationships between different stakeholders as well as companies’ dependence and impact on both the wider society as well as natural environment.
"We need systemic and relational view on value creation where success at individual, organisational and societal level is built in cooperation within these relationships," Tapaninaho says.
The thesis challenges the prevailing perception by utilising stakeholder theory, corporate sustainability literature as well as findings included in the thesis.
Riikka Tapaninaho comes from Tampere, Finland. She’s working as a university teacher in the Faculty of Management and Business at the Tampere University.
The doctoral dissertation of MBA Riikka Tapaninaho in the field of management titled Stakeholder value creation at the intersection of business and sustainability will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University on Wednesday 29 June 2022 at 15 o'clock (Pinni A, Paavo Koli Hall, Chancellorsslope 1). The opponents will be Professor R. Edward Freeman of the University of Virginia and Professor Sybille Sachs of HWZ University and the University of Zurich. The Custos will be Professor Johanna Kujala of the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University.
The event can be also followed via remote connection (Zoom).
The dissertation is available online at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-2479-7
Photo: Jonne Renvall / Tampereen yliopisto