Business Strategies at the Interface of Markets and Society: International Conference on Latin American Supply Chains What, where, when, why?

From a business perspective, more and more corporations are beginning to see the potential for increasing shareholder value by recognizing social challenges as business opportunities and disruptive innovations as sustainable solutions in disguise as Peter Drucker, Michael Porter and others have observed.

During the first two days, a small group of invited scholars who are already established in the field of sustainability and strategy for their work on topics such as creating shared value, employing the triple bottom line, creating businesses at the base of the pyramid, and embedding sustainability into strategy will discuss how the goal of creating sustainability champions in Latin America can be attained using these and other major concepts and frameworks.

Sustainability champions are companies that create long-term profit and growth by transforming social and ecological issues into business opportunities. Latin-American businesses have the opportunity to create more sustainability champions to strengthen their position in the international competition and businesses in developed countries can also learn from their experience.


The goal of this conference is to create a research agenda to support Latin American companies in becoming sustainability champions. It will be held at INCAE, a leading Latin American business school based in Costa Rica, from May 21-23, 2012.

What, where, when, why?
Why focus on Latin America?
Why focus on Latin America

There are two main reasons:

  • First, most Latin American countries are politically stable and have established democratic institutions and reasonably successful emerging markets. Many of the pre-conditions for creating sustainability champions already exist.
  • However, second, many countries in Latin America are still struggling with societal problems like poverty, income disparity, oligarchy and corruption. Unfortunately, there are few proven sustainability champions that meet the needs of international customers as well as of the producers and their communities.
Aim of the Conference

At present, there is very little research available on this topic. With this conference, INCAE Business School intends to define a research agenda in search for sustainability champions in Latin America.

The central question for the conference is: How do the leading concepts of sustainability strategies contribute to the development of sustainable business models that create value for all actors involved from the producer to the customer?

Aim of the Conference
Outcomes of the Conference

The expected outcomes of the conference are:

  1. A set of papers and a research agenda on sustainable business models in Latin-America, to be published in an edited book.
  2. Action research and consulting projects in collaboration with interested corporations operating in Latin America.
  3. Discussions of the conference results with leading scholars at other Latin American universities.
  4. A course and related cases on sustainability strategies created in collaboration with other Latin American universities.
Outcomes of the Conference
Structure of the Conference

Before Conference

(Before May 2012)

Each author of a concept prepares a talk according to three questions:

  1. What is the concept about?
  2. What is the contribution of the concept according to the challenges in Latin America?
  3. What are open questions in respect to these challenges?

May 21: Local society

Latin-American challenges

Experts of CLACDS and INCAE present

  1. Challenges of supply chain management in Latin America.
  2. Two/three cases on companies and how they execute supply chain management within Latin-America.

May 22: International markets

Concepts proved in international markets

The invited authors introduce their concepts. All invited guests discuss at least two questions:

  1. What can we learn of each of these concepts about sustainability strategies?
  2. What are their contributions to solve the challenges in Latin America?

May 23: Local society

Research agenda that will be published

Based on day two, a research agenda will be developed.

  1. The participants discuss and develop a research agenda.
  2. In an open plenum discussion the invited authors present the research agenda and discuss this with invited practitioners, INCAE Alumni and students.
The participants of the conference will discuss solutions.

The participants of the conference will discuss solutions to the challenges described in three empirical cases developed by researchers at INCAE/CLACDS:

  1. A case on market strategy that integrates social and environmental issues as with markets (a Costa Rican food producer).
  2. A case on civil society strategy that integrates market issues with civil society (FUNDES).
  3. A case on turning social issues into business opportunities (Grupo Islita).
a Costa Rican food producer
Grupo Islita

Invited international scholars

Invited international scholars

Stuart Hart Mark Kramer Chris Laszlo Vijay Sathe Robert Sroufe Dennis Young

Stuart Hart

Author of Capitalism at the Crossroads

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Mark Kramer or FSG-Expert

co-Author of Creating Shared Value

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Chris Laszlo

Author of Embedded Sustainability

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Vijay Sathe

Author of Corporate Entrepreneurship

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Roberto Sroufe

Author of Sustainable Supply Chains

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Dennis Young

co-Author of Corporate Philantrophy at the Crossroad

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Context of the Conference

The Conference on Sustainability Champions is part of a broader research program at INCAE / CLACDS.

The conference on sustainability champions is part of a broader research program at INCAE / CLACDS.

The program’s vision

Through a collaboration of corporations, INCAE and other leading universities, cooperatives, farmers, public administrations, nonprofit organizations and international non-governmental organizations, we seek management and technological innovations that create more sustainability champions in Latin America.

The program’s mission

We shape and foster the systematic adoption of ground-breaking innovations by:

  1. Highlighting and replicating proven best practices that are already working well,
  2. Developing new business opportunities, innovative business solutions, and technological innovations in markets of developing countries, and
  3. Overcoming organizational and other roadblocks that impede those two developments.