The 'sponge' organisation: A creativity-based reflection on the innovative and sustainable firm
Rodriguez, Miguel A.
Nowadays, many companies striving for sustainability have developed new and effective communication channels with their stakeholders and, at the same time, successful innovation strategies. However, stakeholder engagement and innovation tend to be managed as parallel rather than interconnected activities within companies, and any link between them seems to be informal and tacit. The aim of this paper is to gain a deeper understanding of how companies' relationship with the environment can be harnessed for sustainable innovation. Given the scant experience of companies linking stakeholder dialogue and sustainable innovation, we decided to adopt an original and innovative research method based on gathering a group of managers from different companies and stimulating their imagination using creativity techniques. In this paper, we first describe the creative research method we used to explore how businesses can integrate stakeholder insights into the process of organisational innovation. Then we present the result of our research experiment: the model of the "sponge" organisation. Based on the experience and intuitively stimulated ideas of the project participants, we propose a definition -a list of values and principles, and important "hard" and "soft" attributes- of the ideal enterprise, i.e., one that uses its relationship with the environment as an essential innovation factor. Finally, we discuss the implications of this business concept and compare it with existing management literature.
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