Practical experience: Paderborn students advise companies on sustainability

 |  SustainabilityStudiesTransferFakultät für WirtschaftswissenschaftenBehavioral Economic Engineering and Responsible Management / Heinz Nixdorf Institute

Sustainability often presents companies with challenges. In order to support them in contemporary organisational development, business administration students at Paderborn University have worked with the Stiftung Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie NRW foundation to create a "common good balance sheet" for Caritasverband Ruhr Mitte, Biohofgut Schloss Hamborn and the Paderborn energy service provider "Werk.E", which looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the respective companies from an ecological, economic and social perspective.

As part of the "Applied Economy for the Common Good" module, the students organised five thematic workshops on supply chains, finance, human resources, market environment and social impact. The module was designed by the Behavioural Economic Engineering and Responsible Management group led by Prof. Dr René Fahr, Professor of Business Administration, in particular Corporate Governance at the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, in cooperation with the lecturers and transformation mentors Dr Christoph Harrach and Christian Einsiedel. The resulting Common Good Report records the extent to which companies are already paying attention to human dignity, solidarity, ecology and transparent decision-making and where there is still room for improvement. After further fine-tuning, it will be published on the company websites in autumn 2024. "The companies discovered new ways in which they can adapt their actions and at the same time take their employees with them," says Harrach. For example, the process has encouraged the introduction of guidelines for fair and sustainable purchasing, breaking down language barriers, focussing more on renewable energy, further developing carbon footprints, making company data available more transparently and allowing employees to decide which charitable initiatives the company should donate to.

Larissa Goldschmidt, Sustainability Manager at Paderborn-based energy efficiency service provider Werk.E, praised the collaboration with the students. The joint assessment was an exciting and instructive process. The practical relevance was also helpful for the students. "The special thing from the students' point of view is the service-learning approach," explains Einsiedel. "They not only get a theoretical overview, but can also actively provide advice, build up relevant skills and at the same time make a very concrete contribution to the socio-ecological transformation of the regional economy."

Paderborn University will once again be offering the "Applied Economy for the Common Good" module in the coming winter semester. Further information for interested companies can be found on the foundation's website.

Photo (Paderborn University): As part of their studies, students at Paderborn University drew up a so-called "common good balance sheet" for three regional companies.