Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise

Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise

Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise

[ The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise] (CSGE) is one of [ two centers of research, learning, and practice] in the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.


The impetus for the Center began when Stuart Hart was brought to Cornell in 2003 by Sam Johnson when he endowed the Chair of Sustainable Global Enterprise. In 2005, the Center was endowed and enabled Cornell to create programs and research to drive business practice toward sustainability. The Center acknowledges that the current status quo is not sustainable in its resource use, social contribution, or economic return.


The Center views sustainable enterprise as a management approach that frames social and environmental challenges as unmet market needs that can be addressed through business solutions. The Center's research and teaching programs to generate cutting-edge ways for private enterprises to achieve financial success. [cite web | url = | title = Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise | accessdate = 2007-11-10] This sets it apart from most other management programs focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), environmental management, ethical business, values-based management, mission-driven business, and philanthropy where the prospect of sustainability is often outside a core business unit. Thus, the CSGE builds programs in business and sustainability based on innovation and entrepreneurship. The Center's programs are centered around two key ideas of base of the pyramid business development and sustainable innovation.

Base of the Pyramid

The 1998 article titled "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" by Professors C.K. Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart [Prahalad, C.K. and Hart, S.L "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" in Strategy+Business 26: 54-67] presented the idea that businesses could profit by working with the poor to expand their markets and build new business units. Stuart Hart and Erik Simanis founded the Base of the Pyramid Learning Laboratory in 2000 while at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. The Learning Lab was built to facilitate technological and business model innovation at the base of the pyramid that translates into culturally-appropriate and ecologically sustainable opportunities for mutual value creation.

In 2003, while at the [ Base of the Pyramid Learning Laboratory] , a group of members decided to pursue a [ Base of the Pyramid Protocol] - a collaborative process of engagement to define and co-create businesses with the people at the "base of the pyramid". This Base of the Pyramid Protocol was lead by the Center including Stu Hart, Gordon Enk, and Erik Simanis.

In 2004 the lab moved to Cornell with Dr. Hart and became the inaugural program of the newly formed Center. Since the initial idea and Protocol were developed, the Center has led teams through and continually developed the Protocol itself. Currently there are three active field projects building businesses with the local communities: [ The SC Johnson Company in Kenya] , [ the Solae Company (a subsidiary of DuPont) in India] , and MasterCard in the Philippines. The BoP Protocol version 1.0 is currently [ online] , and version 2.0 has been presented at conferences, but is not publicly available yet. [cite web | url =| title = Finding profit in servicing the poor | accessdate = 2007-10-15] [cite web | url = | title = Columbia Business School's Social Enterprise Conference: CSR, PR and The Need for Triple Bottom Line Metrics | accessdate = 2007-11-21] [cite web | url = | title = Finding profit in servicing the poor | accessdate = 2007-10-15] [cite web | url = | title = Guest Post: Learning Humility at the BoP Learning Lab | accessdate = 2007-11-21]

In addition to managing these projects, the Center continues to steward the [ BoP Protocol Working Group] to refine and build new tools around the business co-creation methodology. In 2007, with the William Davidson Institute, the CSGE co-sponsored the [ "Business With the Base of the Pyramid"] conference bringing together over 400 academic, industry, and non-governmental leaders to define the opportunities in BoP business development.

ustainable Innovation

Driving businesses toward the creation and commercialization of clean technologies and processes, the Sustainable Innovation Protocol was proposed at a [ Sustainable Innovation Learning Lab] meeting in 2006 to build a tool to help companies research and develop new inherently clean technologies and processes that will reduce or eliminate waste and drive profits at sustainable levels. A draft of the SI Protocol has not been developed, but research is being done to bring together the existing body of knowledge around such processes, including: Biomimicry, Design for the Environment, Cradle to Cradle design, and ISO management standards.


Learning Labs

The Learning Labs act as a forum for interested companies, NGOs and academics to convene and discuss issues around sustainable innovation and base of the pyramid business development. The learning labs often lay the foundation for further research and action in the field to define the business models and processes that enable sustainable enterprise. The learning labs were founded in 2001 while Stu Hart was still at the University of North Carolina and he brought the concept with him to Cornell in 2003. Initially only a few companies were interested in the field, but now learning lab meetings welcome large crowds of interested managers.

ustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion

Founded in 2006, the [ Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion] is one of the six Immersion programs offered at the Johnson School where students pick an area of specialization. The SGE Immersion is particularly interesting because it is divided into 3 overlapping and interconnected phases:
*Sustainable Enterprise Boot Camp - Students spend 8 hours a day for 6 days "before the semester begins" reading, discussing and analyzing the nature of sustainable development and the prospects for sustainable enterprise. This week ends with an introduction to student projects that will be completed throughout the semester.
*Sustainable Global Enterprise - a 1/2 semester course that dives into cases and in depth research highlighting the past successes and failures of sustainable enterprise.
*Sustainable Global Enterprise Practicum Projects - a full-semester course where students complete projects in collaboration with company representatives. Past projects include work with GE, Dupont, Dow Corning, the Environmental Credit Corporation, [ WaterHealth International] and [ Plebys International] .


The Center is Directed by Mark Milstein, and Stuart Hart maintains the S.C. Johnson Chair of Sustainable Global Enterprise.


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