Curious about the Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability and the dual-degree program? Erb Institute Student & Alumni Manager, Emily Keeler and Coordinator, Noor Fahmy will be leading a webinar to take prospective students through the program, the application process, opportunities for funding, our Erb alumni network and career pathways.  Register at the link below!

As part of its fall speaker series, please join the Erb Institute for a workshop with Sean Ansett, President of At Stake Advisors Ltd. Sean is a sustainability executive with 20 years’ experience managing complexity, building multi-stakeholder partnerships, and spearheading change across the apparel, electronics and food sectors.

He is founder of At Stake Advisors Limited, a global sustainability consultancy focused on transforming strategy into practice in the areas of human rights, ethical trade, and environmental sustainability. Prior to founding At Stake Advisors, Sean Ansett was the Director of Corporate Responsibility at Burberry and Director of Global Partnerships at Gap Inc.

Sean’s workshop will introduce codes of conduct and supply chain auditing and discuss the challenges of extending social and environmental standards to complex, far-flung and often opaque global supply chains.

In promoting social change, organizations benefit from diverse membership, yet diversity is difficult to achieve. Using data collected over a 15-month field study, Professors Sara Soderstrom and Kate Heinze examined how a social movement organization (SMO), FoodLab, mobilized a diverse collective of entrepreneurs, aligned with the good food movement. FoodLab articulated a vision for an imagined future of a diverse good food economy in Detroit that aligned movement goals and entrepreneurs’ livelihoods. This vision supported diverse recruitment, and the organization facilitated dialogue among participants. These structured interactions with norms of questions, stories, and respectful interaction, helped build collective identity and foster diverse collective action. FoodLab’s substantive commitment to diversity enabled growth of the diverse collective through social networks.

Learn to “Measure what Matters” — a workshop with Dow’s Jennifer Princing.

Emerging industries depend on government support to grow, but they may be seen as threats to an incumbent industry, and they need to prove their technical feasibility and market promise. So how do emerging industries garner government support? A group of researchers led by former Erb Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Panikos Georgallis set out to demystify the conditions under which emerging industries get government support.

Established industries have economic and political power that emerging industries lack. As the researchers put it, “Nascent industries, and the firms that populate them, are vulnerable. Lacking cognitive acceptance from stakeholders, and sometimes founded in direct opposition to entrenched industries, they struggle to establish and maintain a presence. Favorable regulatory environments can help them to take root, but little is known about how such environments come into effect.” The research was published in “Shine on Me: Industry Coherence and Policy Support for Emerging Industries,” by Panayiotis (Panikos) Georgallis, Glen Dowell and Rodolphe Durand, in Administrative Science Quarterly.

They looked at the solar photovoltaics (PV) industry in Europe and found that government support is strongly dependent on three factors:

• the number of solar PV producers in each country,
• how coherent the industry is, and
• how concentrated the incumbent industry is.

Their results “shed new light on the relationship between public policy and the emergence of an industry category, and they extend our understanding of how new industries can attain valuable state support while operating in seemingly hostile environments,” the researchers wrote.


The researchers studied the solar PV industry from 1987 (the year after the Chernobyl accident) to 2012 (when the industry began to show signs of maturity) for the 28 countries currently in the European Union. During that period, the European solar PV industry grew at astonishing rates, as it was backed by feed-in tariff policies—policies that support renewable electricity by providing long-term contracts, so that the government guarantees the purchase of this electricity that is fed into the grid at a certain price (or tariff).

Feed-in tariff policies were the primary way in which European countries supported the solar PV industry, with the aim of reducing the cost gap between clean and conventional energy, the researchers explained. In addition to evaluating density, coherence (see below) and the concentration of the rival industries, the interplay amongst these factors was also considered.


Feed-in tariffs were more likely in countries that contain more solar PV producers and where the industry was more coherent.

Density. The researchers found that government support is more likely when more producers are operating in the jurisdiction. Their findings suggest that each additional solar photovoltaic cell producer increases the likelihood of a feed-in tariff by 11 percent on average.

Coherence. An industry is less coherent if it includes producers from contrasting industries, such as oil companies entering the solar PV industry, because the emerging industry is perceived as inconsistent with their core business. The study found that government support is more likely with a more coherent industry.

Concentration of the rival sector. The relationship between emerging industry density and likelihood of government support is stronger if the rival sector is more concentrated. When the incumbent sector is highly concentrated, an emerging industry is not considered a significant threat. For example, “in the early 1990s when the German government pioneered feed-in tariffs for solar PV, it faced limited political opposition; the incumbent energy sector was highly concentrated, with the coal industry taking a very high share of the market, and thus had little to fear from the emergent PV industry,” the researchers wrote. “The government could assist or ‘protect’ PV without jeopardizing the fate of the dominant industry.”

By contrast, “in countries like the UK, where large shares of the market are served by coal, nuclear energy, and natural gas but none of them dominates, there is no salient enemy that will help push the idea of the solar PV industry forward.

Density, coherence and concentration. When the rival sector is highly concentrated, the emerging industry’s density matters more if the industry is coherent. “For high levels of rival sector concentration, density increases the probability of [feed-in tariffs] more when the industry is coherent (by about 52 percent) than when it is incoherent (by about 10 percent),” the researchers wrote.

So an emerging industry benefits from being both dense and coherent. The results suggest that governments are more likely to use tariff policies to support the industry “when more solar producers are already operating in the focal country but less likely when the members of this industry category come from industries with contrasting identities, as such organizations reduce the industry’s coherence,” the researchers explained. Interestingly, the structure of the entrenched industries can have a moderating effect. “A concentrated rival sector enhances the new industry’s chances to receive policy support, but only when the industry is coherent.”

The study contributes to existing research on regulation and industry emergence, as well as research on categories. The implications go beyond the solar PV industry and “contribute to a more holistic understanding of how industry categories come to be accepted and supported,” the researchers wrote. While industry growth is often attributed to government support, the emergence of a coherent industry can itself be a trigger of government support in the first place.

This panel will explore different ways to pursue a career with impact as an undergraduate.  The panel will showcase MBA’s, BBA’s, BA’s and alumni who have held internships or jobs in impact, whether in corporate or nonprofit/social enterprise settings.

Following the panel will be opportunities to network with the panelists, as well as with the other upperclassmen BBA’s and MBA’s with experience in careers with impact.  You’ll also have a chance to hear from and interact with staff from Ross’s Career Development Office, the Business + Impact initiative, as well as the Erb Institute.

Join us on Monday, November 12 for a workshop with Tiffany Finley! Tiffany will share experiences from her current role as the Materiality and Stakeholder Engagement Lead at Target and her time consulting across many different industries and geographies.

We are happy to present the annual Erb Institute Fall Workshop Series: The Elements of Business Sustainability. Through this series, we bring business and sustainability experts to the University of Michigan to share their insights on a variety of sustainability opportunities and challenges.

RSVP here!

As part of its fall speaker series, please join the Erb Institute for a workshop with Chhavi Ghuliani, Associate Director for BSR HERproject:  a model that brings together global brands, their suppliers, and local partners to create and implement workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion, and gender equality.

Chhavi will discuss the key social and labor risks and opportunities that face businesses and the variety of roles that practitioners can play in mobilizing the private sector; from internal business roles, working with firms like BSR who collaborate with business to support a variety of sustainability functions or from taking a multi-stakeholder approach.

Click here to RSVP!

As Associate Director at BSR, Roger has nearly 15 years of experience advising some of the world’s largest brands on a broad range of social, labor, and environmental issues—from factory working conditions, to migrant labor in agricultural production, to living wage across global supply chains. Few people in the world today have more practical, hands-on human-rights experience—in the factories, fields, and board rooms of global sustainability!

Informal conversation with Roger McElrath about the opportunities and obstacles to having social, environmental, and human-rights impact through sustainability consulting to companies.
RSVP here!

As part of its fall speaker series, please join the Erb Institute for a workshop with John Viera, Former Global Director, Sustainability & Vehicle Environmental Matters, Ford Motor Company.

John will discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by Ford. During this workshop, John will share real-life examples from the field of successes and failures and discuss strategies for engaging with stakeholders to champion sustainability.