Formation of Sustainable Value in Industrial Processes
Kivilä, Jesse Johannes
Permanent address of the item is
Kestävän arvon muodostuminen teollisissa prosesseissa
Sustainability and sustainable development, understood to include economic, environmental and societal aspects, are receiving even more attention. Companies are facing ever growing pressure to modify their operations to fit sustainable development. Academic literature offers various models and methods to be used in industry to enhance the sustainability of companies’ operations. The objective was to create new knowledge on how sustainable value is created as a part of industrial processes. What are the tools, indicators and actions used in the sustainability work? How can an external service provider assist in sustainable value creation? The main research question was: How is sus-tainable value formed in industrial processes? Research design was a multiple case study, and two case companies were selected by a service provider that is a partner company in this study. The two cases are Finnish process industry companies. Data for the study was collected through interviews, observations and informal discussion with the case companies and through workshop meetings with the service provider. The interviews were completed as semi-structured to ensure rich and extensive answers. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and coded. The coded interviews were analyzed with ATLAS.ti computer program to ensure systematical analysis. The results of each case were discussed in a workshop meeting with the service provider. The results indicate that companies have understood the threefold nature of sustainability. Reasons to operate sustainably include customers’ demand, law and regulations, and competition. Value of sustainability is a complex issue, and case companies had no difficulties in mentioning benefits of sustainable operations to all related stakeholders. Quite surprisingly, tools and methods are not used in identifying and assessing of sustainable value. All studied functions (strategic level, R&D, manufacturing, marketing) were identified to have many actions that can foster sustainable development. However, in R&D the actions are based more on common sense than on any clear set of actions. External service providers are used as part of sustainable value creation, and one of the case companies had been able to reach significant sustainability benefits from an industrial symbiosis formed with a service provider. Customers should ensure that enough resources are allocated to integrating the service provider into the operations. The service provider should take a leading role when needed and take care of a specific set of issues at a time, instead of trying to do it all at once.