The Fowler Center is a leader in scholarship and research on business as an agent of world benefit. Discover some of the research initiatives and case studies the Fowler Center coordinates, find opportunities to learn more about sustainable value, or serve as an intern or fellow in the field of sustainability.
The World Inquiry into business as an agent of world benefit is a worldwide action-research initiative that uses Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to learn more about the role of business in society. The best of the uncovered innovations are profiled in the Innovation Bank.
Equal Exchange is a successful, growing, for-profit, employee-owned, specialty foods company that has helped to pioneer the “Fair Trade” model that improves the market access, income, and commercial opportunities for small-scale farmers in developing countries. In the traditional coffee supply chain, small-scale farmers sell their crop to a chain of intermediaries who eventually export the coffee. Under this arrangement the individual farmers have almost no control; few economic options; carry out only the very least profitable link in the value chain; and receive just a small amount of the export price – which itself is usually too low to provide more than a poverty-level income. In contrast to conventional importing practices Equal Exchange deals directly with democratically run farmer cooperatives in Africa, Asia and South America, and buys their coffee, and other crops, at a guaranteed above-market price. In addition, Equal Exchange works with socially responsible financial institutions in the U.K. and U.S. to provide affordable loans to cooperatives that might otherwise lack access to credit. These Fair Trade practices increase the incomes of the economically disadvantaged growers; helps them to invest in their operations; and fosters broad-based, stable economic growth in rural communities. Fair Trade also helps to foster equality and democracy in countries where corruption is often a problem.
Case Study Library
Search sustainability-themed business cases that serve as teaching resources for faculty across management disciplines
Featured Case Study
Michael Pace faced a dilemma. He was determined to help the boutique hotel chain "walk the talk" regarding its commitment to environmental responsibility, but he also had agreed not to introduce any new products or processes that would be more expensive than those they replaced. Now that the first phase of the program had been implemented nationwide, he and the company's team of "eco-champions" were facing some difficult challenges with the rollout of the second, more ambitious, phase.