Developing sustainable strategies for technology firms – International recognition to research in sustainable strategic renewal in technology firms


Tampere University’s researchers in Industrial engineering and management were awarded in an international ISPIM innovation conference in June. The awarded study examined how firm strategy develops and renews in an environmentally sustainable way while maintaining its competitive advantage.

Industrial Engineering and Management researchers presented an article Strategic Renewal Process towards Environmental Sustainability – A Longitudinal Case in a virtual ISPIM innovation conference in June. The conference article earned a respected Knut Holt Best Conference Paper award. The assessment criteria considered the high quality of research and research work, as well as the value of implications for both research and practice.

“We analyzed the exceptional strategic turnaround of Neste Oyj from a traditional oil refiner into a global market leader in renewable fuels. Based on the results, we produced a process model for sustainable strategic renewal. Typical for such a fundamental change in firm strategy is that the process takes time. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the structure and characteristics of the strategic renewal process. The new knowledge allows firms to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable business”, explains researcher Jenni Kaipainen from Center for Innovation and Technology Research, CITER research group in the Industrial Engineering and Management Unit.

Technology firm’s stakeholders are increasingly drawing attention to corporate sustainability issues. According to the study, successful strategic renewal towards sustainability requires not only a strong vision and bold investments to innovative technology and diverse competences, but also strategic collaboration with others who share similar values.

“Pioneering technology firms have understood the need for updating their strategies already long ago”, says professor in Industrial Engineering and Management, Leena Aarikka-Stenroos. “Neste is a good example of this. As our next step, we proceed to study other pioneers in sustainable renewal in order to develop our knowledge on how similar strategic renewal processes can be better managed. This study is a part of national CICAT2025 project, in which we provide knowledge from high quality research to support Finland in the area of circular economy and environmental sustainability. To create such knowledge, mutually beneficial collaboration with technology firms is of high value.”

Although regulative actions, such as laws and legislation have an important role in advancing the sustainability of business, the study showed that strategic renewal towards sustainability requires courage to develop already before being certain of regulative support.

“Neste’s strategic decisions have been one step ahead of the regulative changes throughout the renewal process”, doctoral researcher Valtteri Ranta notes.

ISPIM – the International Society for Professional Innovation Management – gathers innovation professionals from research, industry, consulting and public sector from over 70 countries. It functions as a platform for advancing innovation research and adaptation into practices. ISPIM conferences receive articles from over 700 researchers annually. The honored Knut Holt Best Paper Award is selected by a blinded evaluation of an academic panel, which consists of 130 members.

CICAT2025 Circular Economy catalysts – Advancing the Circular Economy transition