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Breaking layers of ‘Business as Usual’ to solve wicked problems

In his new book Business & The Sustainable Development Goals: A Framework for Effective Corporate Involvement Rob van Tulder, Professor of International Business-Society Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), offers seven principles to help organisations to understand how to use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have already been widely accepted by business, government and civil society since their introduction in 2015. Van Tulder’s book is the ‘cornerstone’ volume in RSM’s Series on Positive Change. It shows how the SDGs can be used as a strong mechanism for guiding strategic planning that takes sustainable development into account.



In the book, Van Tulder writes that collaboration between organisations and across sectors is essential to effectively address grand societal challenges, or wicked problems. These are the societal problems that are difficult to solve due to incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the multitude of stakeholders and interests involved, and the interconnected nature of the problem with other problems. Van Tulder presents a framework for designing broader, pro-active, purpose-driven business models, as well as for identifying the ‘tipping points’ at which organisations will begin to create positive effects based on the SDGs.

This publication provides a solid understanding of the relevance of the SDG framework for business, and of the contribution that business, together with civil society and governmental organisations, can make to solve wicked problems.

The book is already being used as course material in RSM’s bachelor and master programmes as part of the school’s mission to be a force for positive change in the world. Under the leadership of Van Tulder, over 130 Global Business and Sustainability master students will put their knowledge at work during the 11th Max Havelaar lecture at Erasmus University on 30 October. There, they will provide companies with consultancy services to formulating the next steps in defining company strategy in line with the global grand challenges represented by the SDGs. The book is available as a free PDF download here, and in printed form from RSM.

The RSM Series on Positive Change

RSM holds the view that business can and should play an instrumental role in addressing the world’s big challenges in order to create prosperity for all. The school series on Positive Change was launched with the aim of informing business professionals about trends RSM considers to be important in the future, and about opportunities for business to contribute to positive change. Each of the publications presents a new framework.

UN SDGs

RSM adopted the SDGs as a reference framework for its mission to be a force for positive change in the world. The SDGs, agreed by world leaders in 2015, set out a framework to classify the most urgent social, economic and environmental challenges facing the world. They are neutral, non-political and provide an internationally recognised point of reference for RSM to ensure that its research, education, and engagement with society is relevant, meaningful, and has real societal impact.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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