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    JOIN THE IMP FORUM SEMINAR, Universita’ Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM), Ancona, Italy, 3-4 October 2019

    IMP FORUM SEMINAR, Universita’ Politecnica delle Marche (UNIVPM), Ancona, Italy, 3-4 October 2019

    The aim of the IMP FORUM SEMINAR in Ancona is to discuss research on the empirical phenomenon of ‘Business and sustainable development’

    as well as related conceptual and methodological issues. Research on the general phenomenon of business interaction is also discussed.

    ‘Business and sustainable development’

    Nowadays ‘sustainable development’ is gaining increasingly importance. New approaches and technologies such as circular economy and the rise of the Industry 4.0 have been increasingly highlighted as means that help business and society to move towards sustainable development (McDowall et al., 2017). It is evident that technological development and innovation are not enough to meeting future resource needs in a sustainable manner. New ways of organizing (at single company level, at inter-organizational level and at network level), sensible public policies and public-private partnerships are needed to face such a great challenge. Indeed, production and distribution processes emerge as combinations of different technologies, often dispersed in the business network. Development towards sustainability is likely to affect businesses and their way to operate, the way they relate to other businesses and the dynamics of business networks. We are convinced (as the IMP colleagues who have already addressed these issues) that the IMP perspective (e.g. Håkansson and Snehota, 2017), with its focus on interactions, relationships and networks, can generate new and valuable insights on sustainable development by tackling the problem from a theoretical, methodological, managerial and policy making perspective.

    In the call for the special issue we put some attention on the agribusiness/food sector, but studies focusing on any other empirical setting (e.g. construction industry) are equally welcome. Questions to address in order to gain better understanding of the challenge of sustainable development include:

    -Why and how companies initiate innovation processes (including new approaches/technologies such as Industry 4.0 and circular economy) to embrace sustainable development? How are customer and/or suppliers involved in these processes?

    -How do companies collaborate (among them and with public actors) to meet the increasing need of food? How do they try to reduce food losses along production and supply chains?

    -How are businesses (in Europe but also in emerging countries) changing to face the challenge of sustainable development (e.g. developing short supply chains/sustainable supply networks)?

    -How do business relationships/networks morph while pursuing sustainable development?

    -What kind of intra- and inter-organizational changes is required to put in place new production systems (based on the requirements of renewable energy and circular material flows, increased digitalization and automation, new manufacturing technologies) driven by sustainable development goals?

    -What’s the role of small respectively big firms and their interaction patterns in these processes?

    -How is procurement transforming to embrace sustainable development, and in particular the public procurement?

    -What are assumptions behind actual policies for sustainable development? Do they reflect the way companies (and public actors) work for achieving sustainable development?

    Organizing team: Andrea Perna, Gian Luca Gregori, Antonella La Rocca, Alexandra Waluszewski
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