As sustainability continues to be a strategic priority for governments and businesses, innovative technologies keep emerging that enable businesses to better account for their environmental impacts and to plan and invest in more sustainable strategies accordingly. However, there is limited research on how businesses incorporate novel calculative practices arising from such innovative technologies into their existing investment decision-making and business planning processes.
By collaborating with two businesses that are innovators in sustainability-focused digital technologies, namely Buyerdock and Footprint Digital, our research aims to uncover new insights into how novel calculative practices come to underpin important business functions – especially finance, marketing, and operations – and shape approaches to productivity. Specifically, we aim to better understand how businesses can leverage novel calculative practices enabled by innovative technologies to have a positive environmental impact both directly as well as through their network of clients and partner organisations.
We adopt a mixed-methods, multi-sited, multiple-case study approach, which allows us to analyse data within and across sites and thus the similarities and differences between cases. By employing the theoretical underpinnings of calculative practices, we will be able to study the impact of the innovative technologies of our case companies, both on their own approaches to productivity and sustainability as well as on that of their clients and partner organisations.
We therefore contribute to new understandings of how emerging innovative calculative practices shape specific key business functions and perform business strategies and investment decisions. We also contribute to The Productivity Institute’s mission of enhancing businesses’ understanding of how to define and measure productivity in ways that capture and drive positive environmental and societal impacts.
Lead researcher Dr Erik Jacobi, University of Essex