Sustainable Business Development: Frameworks for Idea Evaluation and Cases of Realized Ideas
Edited book, 2014

This book is about developing sustainable businesses. The focus is on early stages – when a business is little more than an idea – and on innovation in an open environment, relatively unconstrained by organizational or other demands. Our setting is primarily the university, and especially the side of the university that nurtures new ideas to grow – sometimes into ventures, and sometimes into projects, but always with the intention of making an impact upon sustainable development – economic, ecological, and social development. All sustainable development starts with an idea of wanting to make a difference. If this difference can be packaged into an offering that some customer pays for, then suddenly the idea is utilizing a whole market economy to make this difference. However, ideas not targeting paying customers normally also have to be packaged in ways that satisfy user or customer needs. Sustainable business development thus can be seen as a way of making the world a better place, not primarily by top-down intervention – through government agencies or programs – but through a more bottom-up process of trying to satisfy human and other needs, by promoting and offering new utilities: customer utilities, societal utilities and business utility (i.e. creating reasons for others to invest money in your idea). Whether you are a practitioner, a student or a university employee, or engaging in your free time (i.e. being an engaged citizen) does not really matter. This book is written for anyone who believes in the power of the individual developing good ideas in networks, and who wishes to learn more about how to realize these ideas. The focus is on you – the idea developer, or if you like, the knowledge worker in the knowledge-economy – not on established firms, organizations, or financiers. After all, ideas especially in early stages depend upon the active engagement of individuals, regardless of where they are situated. If you are an employee, you might have larger initial resources to access but you would also have the duties and constraints of your organization to relate to. If you are acting in your free time, then you might not have the resources but you certainly have freedom to operate and to mobilize relevant networks. Most ideas depend upon a combination of individuals – some being more free but resource-constrained, and others representing structures and then also other levels of resources. This book is written to allow such an individual network-based open innovation perspective to flourish, pointing at opportunities, at useful tools and examples, and at the teamwork often necessary to release creative and accomplishing powers of the main resources of the new knowledge economy – ourselves and our nowadays global networks! We expect the reader of this book to be a reflective doer, someone who learns while doing, and who likes to be inspired by others. The majority of the examples in the book are written by the doers themselves. As editors we have asked the authors to add reflections, and then we have also added some reflections of our own in the final chapter. We believe that good real-life examples have a never-ending ability to allow improved reflections and learning. We encourage you as a reader to discuss and debate issues and examples in this book. We will aspire to develop this version of the book into new versions and perhaps complement it with even more interactive means of communication – such as a website. We hope you share the ambitions we have about increasing knowledge and skills for sustainable business development. Please therefore give your constructive comments for us to improve any content. The first part of the book focuses on frameworks and the second part on cases. We have tried to refer to the cases when appropriate as we introduce frameworks. The frameworks address sustainability, the challenges of so-called lock-ins, how to conduct early idea evaluation and development, utilizing group dynamics, and methods such as backcasting, scenario planning, LCA and patent analysis. The cases cover sustainable business development ventures, social entrepreneurship projects, and sustainable development and idea developments in established firm settings. The 2014 edition of the book is nearly identical to the 2013 edition with the exception of Chapter 2: Sustainability, which has been updated to include the 2013 and 2014 Fifth Assessment reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a note on the 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw 11-23 November 2013.




scenario planning



back casting


framing the claim

idea evaluation


Sverker Alänge

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

Mats Lundqvist

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Law (excluding Law and Society)

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work





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