NSM Focus | Cut flowers as a source for sustainable knowledge

Making the world more sustainable is not something that can be done alone. It requires a large network. This is also the view of Sjors Witjes, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Sustainable Business and co-founder of Radboud Centre for Responsible Organisation Competencies and Sustainability. In his research, he takes an international approach to sustainable business. He recently found himself in Colombia, where he was Professor by special appointment at the University of Antioquia in Medellín.

Plastic straws, whether or not to eat meat, and solar panels on roofs. Times are changing drastically. The outcry to change the way we treat the planet is getting louder and louder. Transitions are required and this places demands not only on individuals, but also on businesses. “It’s about taking social responsibility”, thinks Witjes. “Businesses also have this responsibility.”

Sjors WitjesValuable knowledge

As Professor by special appointment at the Colombian university, he is part of the research group GESTOR (Grupo de Investigación en Gestión Organizacional) in which he will focus on sustainable business in the Colombian context. “A country such as Colombia has a great deal of valuable knowledge. We can also use that knowledge here to help us during our transition to sustainable business processes. From a scientific point of view, we often think we know what we should do. It is important to look at the reality and learn from those experiences. This strengthens our research.”

Sustainable flowers

One of the first projects that Witjes is undertaking with a team of researchers from Radboud University and GESTOR is a comparative study into sustainability in the cut flower sector in the East of the Netherlands and in the Medellín region. By investigating the processes of five Colombian growers and five Dutch growers, Witjes and the research team hope to gain more insight into how the university can help sectors, such as the cut flower sector, to establish and improve their sustainability strategies. “This concerns such things as measures that are pushed by the government, imposed by the sector, or required by organisations”, he explains. “The knowledge acquired can help other businesses become more sustainable. In addition, this helps us as researchers to highlight our role in making the sector more sustainable.”

An extensive interview with Sjors Witjes will be available in November in the printed edition of NSM Focus.