Rethinking the economy, in Quebec and elsewhere
Who says that management and sustainable development are necessarily incompatible? HEC Montréal’s IDEOS Social Impact Hub unites professors, students and entrepreneurs behind a single mission: getting organizations to make social impacts a central factor in their decision making.
Professor Luciano Barin Cruz of the Department of Management, the Director of this research and knowledge transfer hub, is emphatic that social impacts need to become a cornerstone of business models. “This principle has to be embedded directly into the value chain and into organizational operations and strategy. It can’t just be about setting up a corporate charitable foundation.” Among the IDEOS hub’s key focuses are supporting social organizations with the pre-incubation, incubation and acceleration phases, and documenting reasons why such organizations succeed or fail.
The work by the Professor and his team of researchers has laid the groundwork for major research, both at home and abroad. Supported by Développement international Desjardins, a study in Sri Lanka of over 500 microenterprises showed that traditional training programs fell short when it came to creativity and innovation, key skills in an entrepreneurial environment dominated by imitation. Testing of a new training program produced promising results, demonstrating a way forward. That the research generated such unexpected insight is critical, especially since innovation has proven decisive for the survival of microbusinesses in developing countries. The new approaches suggested by the research were then used to train thousands of other entrepreneurs.
“When we’re rethinking traditional economic models, the added value that a management school like HEC Montréal brings to the table is dependent on our always being conscious of proposing viable economic models,” says Barin Cruz. “We already take social impact quite seriously, but we can’t forget about the long-term ramifications.”
In business as in life, balance is key.