An innovative governance mechanism powering systematic validation and development of next best practice
Some businesses and some industries are demonstrating leadership on sustainability issues through cross-organizational collaboration and innovation, but the diffusion and scaling up of the sustainability solutions often termed Best Practices has been identified as a key challenge for future sustainable development by the UN (Leisinger and Bakker, 2013). Over a little more than a decade global initiatives like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the UN Global Compact (UNGC) has demonstrated leadership by addressing these issues through voluntary commitment from thousands of corporations, whom are reporting on their sustainability practices to the GRI and UNGC standards. As a result, corporate communication on sustainability has undoubtedly risen dramatically, but a substantial impact on the sustainability of business and the societies they operate in has proven harder to verify. Despite the exponentially increasing number of signatories, these multi-stakeholder standards and especially the UN Global Compact can be viewed as facing a legitimacy crisis. Critics often connect this to the standards lacking stricter requirements and enforcement hereof (Bruno & Karliner, 2000; Utting & Sammit, 2006). In turn, this makes comparing and benchmarking corporate performance very difficult and thereby undermines the potential of sustainability reporting as a powerful facilitator of learning from best practices. This article pro-actively suggests that this potential can be reinvigorated by the systematic application of more innovative governance mechanisms. This article currently conceptualizes the UN PRME-endorsed (Haertle, 2013) Sustainability Leadership Simulator (SLS), which at a minimum level of operationalization will be an open source based and hence impactful online training simulator leveraging increased sustainable behavior by individuals and organizations. Though, fully operationalized the SLS has the potential to be an innovative governance mechanism, which features the power to systematically validate and develop the current and next Best Practices. The concept of Best Practices is highly contested due to their context-specific nature and the issues become apparent when considering the authoritative power placed in them when used in frameworks like the UNGC’s Advanced Level of reporting for assessing and determining the sustainability performance by corporations. This article suggests that the application of the SLS could address the apparent need for a transparent and continuous validation and development of these Advanced Level best practices. This would allow for an individual weighing of the best criterions and associated criterions, which could be a first step in a process (Ackoff, 1981) of a suggested future evolvement of the UNGC framework towards a model for Sustainability Enterprise Excellence (Edgeman and Eskildsen, 2013) comparable to EFQM and (BNQA) Business Excellence Models. Thereby also differentiating the UNGC from the GRI and facilitate even better opportunities for their enhanced collaboration along the lines of Collaborative Governance 2.0 (Rasche, 2010).
Sustainability; Simulation; Governance; Sustainability Leadership; Multi-stakeholder Reporting Standards; Sustainability Development and Performance; Best Practice; Enterprise Excellence Models
Main Research Area:
International Conference on Sustainable Development Practice : Advancing Evidence-Based Solutions for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, 2013