News Archive

Andy Hoffman Receives Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award

September 15, 2016

At the Erb Institute, we teach about the power of business to create sustainable change, so we are excited to announce that Erb Faculty Member, Andy Hoffman, has been recognized for his innovative teaching on Market Transformation as a 2016 Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award recipient.

For over a decade, the Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Awards have recognized faculty who are at the vanguard of teaching about the business and society interface. Professor Hoffman’s courses recognized by this award include Strategies for Sustainable Development I: Enterprise Integration and Strategies for Sustainable Development II: Market Transformation.

Please join us in congratulating Andy on this tremendous accomplishment!

Read the Aspen Institute Announcement


Ross MAP team with two Erb students featured in national Chile news for work on solar project

July 19, 2016

Ross-MAP-ChileA Michigan Ross MAP team was featured in EMOL Economy for their work on a solar research project with The Chilean Association of Solar Energy (Acesol) this spring. The Ross students on the team include Nick Barrett (Erb MBA/MS ’18), Andrew Dabrowski (MBA ’17), Siddhartha Deo (MBA ’17), Shoaib Rahman (Erb MBA/MS ’17), and Christopher Selle (MBA ’17).

Read more about their project in the below English translated article.

A University of Michigan study calls to assess the residential solar generation in Chile.
The Chilean Association of Solar Energy commissioned the research project, which conducted a market analysis of residential photovoltaic energy, and concluded it needs a greater economic incentive.

SANTIAGO. – The Chilean Association of Solar Energy (Acesol), through a study called Ross MAP conducted by graduate students at the University of Michigan, achieved the first step in its goal to assess the country’s solar photovoltaic distributed generation.

Through this project, the labor union promoting solar development is seeking all positive externalities, stemming from the use of this renewable energy, to be considered; as well as higher incentives through public policy aiming at fostering its widespread use.

So far, the net billing system has had little effect on increasing the number of installed residential photovoltaic systems.

According to data from the Ministry of Energy, there were 192 installed systems registered up to April, equivalent to 2.97 MW, which is still a low figure when considering the country’s solar energy potential.

Based on several international analysis and evaluations about photovoltaic distributed generation, the Ross MAP Study concluded that a detailed investigation is needed to determine the true value of the solar distributed generation in our country, which Acesol has formally requested to the Ministry of Energy authorities.

Ross MAP compares 16 international studies considering aspects such as power grid capacity, power matrix security, environmental and energy costs.

Thirteen of those studies indicate that the rate should cancel more than what the net billing currently does (it currently pays approximately 60% of the consumer’s energy usage), and in eight studies more than what the net metering currently does (it reimburses the consumer at a 1/1 ratio between energy generation and usage).

The study acknowledges that in the current conditions of the market, at an average payback time or return on investment of nine years, Chilean residential solar energy is not attractive enough to promote its widespread use. The study suggests an average payback time of five years.

Key factors to improve upon (problems to solve): Lack of financing, with existing rates of 20%, public policy favoring larger facilities, law of distributed generation that allows auto-consumption but that does not promote it, consumer perception misaligned with reality (due to misinformation) that makes the sale of the system more difficult for vendors, slow and cumbersome process of connection, and generalized reticence towards subsidies.

According to the study, two chief variables must be used in combination in order to develop the Chilean market: Firstly, changing the feed-in-tariffs, from net billing to net metering.

This wouldn’t be a subsidy for the solar industry, like some economic actors suggest. Rather, it is a call to assess and consider all positive externalities of solar energy. In addition to the already mentioned, the positive effects on the labor arena “should be assessed and quantified.”

Secondly, developing a specific financing system for the solar distributive generation industry. One option would be to include it in the mortgage payment. Another option would be to create financial instruments for the leasing of solar systems.

In terms of the process of connection, which was also covered in the study, the Ministry of Energy is currently modifying regulation pertaining to Law 20.571, which expedites and simplifies small-scale connections. According to Acesol, this is a step in the right direction.


This news article was originally written by EMOL Economy on June 28, 2016. The original story can be found in Spanish here (pdf). The below English translation has been approved to be republished by EMOL.

Erb Faculty Director, Joe Arvai – Better Decisions for a Better World

June 1, 2016

“For sustainable enterprise to truly drive on the promise in its name, it has to be about more than just ‘going green’; it must also account for economic development that is both socially inclusive and environmentally sound. Joe Arvai will take you on an international journey of research and practice intended to breathe much-needed life into the concept of decision-making for the triple bottom line.”  – Ross Positive Business Conference 2016


Erb Postdoc shares how social movements can spark corporate social responsibility initatives

May 20, 2016

Erb Postdoc Panikos Georgallis’ work on social movements and corporate social responsibility was recently featured in Ideas for Leaders.

Read his idea summary on How Social Movements Spark Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives (pdf)

New podcast from Faculty Director, Joe Arvai on Michigan Radio

May 17, 2016

As a follow-up to Erb Faculty Director, Joe Arvai’s publication in Nature Climate Change, Michigan Radio talks with Joe about his recent research which attempts to understand exactly what it takes to get people to care about climate change. This study was co-authored with Jing Shi, Vivianne H.M. Visschers and Michael Siegrist and is published in Nature Climate Change (April 2016.)

What they found seems to refute the popular line of thinking that culture is the biggest factor in whether we care and are willing to do something about climate change.

Joe Arvai is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the School of Natural Resources and he directs the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Arvai tells us that while culture plays a role, it doesn’t appear to be the biggest factor.  Listen to the podcast .pdf link

Erb Faculty Member, Tom Lyon featured in The Guardian

March 9, 2016

Erb Faculty Member, Tom Lyon opines that although Warren Buffet and ‪‎Berkshire Hathaway’s‬ record of astute financial moves is hard to argue with, he may be missing the mark in terms of under-estimating the pace and acceleration of ‪‎climate change‬ and what that means for business.  Read the full Guardian article.  (.pdf)

Erb Faculty Member Quoted in Sustainability Education Program Annual Report

March 3, 2016

Erb Faculty Member, Andy Hoffman was quoted and featured for his work on “The Fourth Wave” in the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s 2015 Annual Report. Read more

“Today, with little sustained attention to critical sustainability issues like poverty, climate change, species extinction, social unrest, equity, and fairness in a rapidly globalized world, some have begun to question whether business schools are falling out of step and irrelevant to the world of practice and whether the modern business school must fundamentally alter its teaching and research in order to respond to the environmental and social challenges of the twenty-first century.”
-Andrew Hoffman, Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan and Education Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute

Creating a shared value model for sustainable agriculture in developing countries

February 29, 2016

Shared-X is a for-profit impact investing company working to revamp agricultural practices and models for high-value specialty crops like organic bananas, aromatic cocoa and specialty coffee in developing countries. They strive to close the agricultural yield gap by implementing advanced farming techniques while also connecting rural farmers to global markets so they can earn more equitable returns from their harvest.

Erb Student Involvement
Erb Strategic Advisory Council (SAC) Member, John Denniston and his business partner, Tony Salas visited U-M in September 2015 to share collaboration opportunities with Erb Institute MBA/MS dual-degree students. This cutting-edge model sparked the interest of Erb students so much so that a group of 16 students gathered together after the event to strategize potential student involvement with Shared-X.

On the ground experience
Two Erb students from this group, Carissa De Young and Bob Kraynak, traveled to Peru in December 2015 to see the Shared-X model in action, with the goal of reporting their findings back to the group. Carissa and Bob connected and interacted with a variety of stakeholders: farmers, distributors and many others who bring Shared-X to life. This trip gave the students better insight into the production process and will allow the Business Impact Group (BIG) to make improved recommendations for scaling the impact Shared-X can have on rural farmers in Peru.

A few photos from Carissa and Bob’s December 2015 trip to Peru:

Carissa and Bob observe the growing coffee beans on a healthy plant at a Shared-X Farm

Carissa and Bob observe the growing coffee beans on a healthy plant

Carissa and Bob visit a coffee plant nursery at a Shared-X Farm

Carissa and Bob visit a coffee plant nursery

Bob and Jame, a Shared-X employee and agronmist, discuss the growth process of cocoa

Bob and Jamie, an agronomist, discuss the growth process of cocoa

Bob walks with neighboring farmer Reinaldo along his pineapple field on a visit from Shared-X staff

Bob walks with neighboring farmer Reinaldo along his pineapple field

Carissa checks pineapples picked that morning in the central Peruvian Amazon

Carissa checks pineapples picked that morning in the central Peruvian Amazon

Feb 15 – Erb Prospective Student Webinar

February 2, 2016

Register here

During this webinar, we will talk about upcoming deadlines, ways to get involved with Erb, and some of the exciting projects that are going on at the Institute and Erb Recruitment Scholarships.

Sharon Flynn Student Workshop Summary

November 6, 2015

Workshop-Photo-cropSharon Flynn visited campus and held a career and discussion focused student workshops on October 30, 2015.

Sharon’s career has spanned the globe in identifying critical stakeholder issues and developing and implementing plans that benefit all stakeholders. Furthermore, ‘stakeholder engagement’ was defined as a means, not an end. Sharon indicated that impact comes from the dialogue established between stakeholders; recognizing who needs to be at the table, building trust and empathy with indigenous populations and using anthropological skills to understand the community. Much of Sharon’s success in creating that dialogue was not necessarily in being the expert, but being able to digest and assimilate disparate views and information.

A closing piece of advice from Sharon was “not to shut off any sectors, consider the opportunity and have a key grasp on the Leadership, systems and competency” in any organization you consider for for a career.