Dr Pasi Heikkurinen
I am Lecturer in Business and Sustainable Change in the School of Earth and Environment, Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) and Adjunct Professor in Sustainability and Organizations at the Aalto University School of Business, Department of Management Studies (Finland). I also lead the BOSS (Business and Organisations for Sustainable Societies) Research Group at SRI.
Before joining the School of Earth and Environment and SRI, I worked as an Assistant Professor in Responsible Management and Sustainable Economic Development at the United Nations mandated University for Peace, Department of Environment and Development (Costa Rica); University Teacher in Philosophy of Management at the Aalto University School of Business, Department of Management and International Business (Finland); and Research Scientist at MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Economics Unit (Finland).
I have also been a Visiting Researcher at Lancaster University, Centre for the Study of Environmental Change (UK) and Umeå University School of Business and Economics, Department of Business Administration (Sweden).
I was recently awarded a two-year Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (1 May 2017 – 30 April 2019) for a project titled Technology for Sustainability in Organisations: Case Studies on Agricultural Production (TECHSUS). This study seeks to shed light on the tensions of sustainability in agricultural production by investigating farmers’ experiences on technology. What is the practitioners’ understanding of the ecological problem, and what kind of technology can help responding to it? The study focuses on examining the prominence of technology in igniting sustainable change in the organization of agricultural practices. In terms of theory, the study builds on the ecological streams of phenomenology, economics, and organisation theory, while empirically the study focuses on arable farming in Yorkshire, UK.
My current research focus is on sustainable organizations, splitting into two transdisiplinary lines of inquiry:
Responsibility for sustainability
In the scholarly literature, as well as in social practice, confusion about who are responsible for forming and maintaining the needed sustainable organizations prevails. In neoliberal contexts, much emphasis has been recently placed on economic actors' voluntary actions, particularly on multinational corporations.
The first line of investigation examines of the role of economic actors, structures and practices for sustainability with a particular focus on business organisations. The focal concept of this investigation line is ‘responsibility’. The first research problem that steers this research asks what the potential and pitfalls of increasing the responsibility of business organisations are? As a second follow-up problem in this line of investigation, I am keen on knowing how responsibilities could/should be distributed in/of/around organisations to reach sustainability. To arrive at answers, I employ multiple theoretical perspectives ranging from critical and ethico-political to integrative (see e.g. Heikkurinen and Mäkinen, 2016; Heikkurinen and Mäkinen, 2018). I study these questions mainly conceptually but will also undertake further empirical research in the context of food production and distribution.
Heikkurinen, Pasi and Mäkinen, Jukka (2016). Synthesising corporate responsibility on organisational and societal levels of analysis: An integrative perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, doi: 10.1007/s10551-016-3094-x.
Heikkurinen, Pasi and Mäkinen, Jukka (2018). Integrative stakeholder engagement: A review and synthesis of economic, critical, and politico-ethical perspectives. In: Lindgreen et al., A Relational Approach to Stakeholder Engagement: A Research Anthology. Routledge: London.
Despite the growing expectations on technological solutions, it is still largely debated what the role of technology will be in reaching sustainability. The grand promises linked to technology call for a closer, critical scrutiny.
The second investigation line has its emphasis on the question of technology for sustainable organization. Inspired by the phenomenological philosophy of technology, as well as science and technology studies, this research stream has started off by seeking to define technology. Following the definitional task, another foundational objective has been to understand what the phenomenon of technology signifies for agential interaction, as well as to clarify how technology shapes the human-nature relationship (see Heikkurinen, 2016). After gaining the needed clarity on these two issues, the first actual research problem asks what the limits of technological solutions in achieving sustainability in/of organisations are, if there are any? The follow-up problem is again phrased as follows: what kind of technologies can support the emergence of sustainable modes of organisation?
Heikkurinen, Pasi (2016). Degrowth by means of technology? A treatise for an ethos of releasement. Journal of Cleaner Production, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.070.
Heikkurinen, Pasi (2017). The relevance of von Wright’s humanism to contemporary ecological thought. Acta Philosophica Fennica, 93: 449-463.
What has lately intrigued me the most is the research task of synthesising previous work on sustainability in/of organizations. I consider that shedding light on the ‘patterns which connect’ – in the words of Gregory Bateson – is of crucial importance in this age of fragmentation and cumulatively increasing research outputs.
Thus, in my future research, I will also seek to integrate the two lines of investigation that so far have run in parallel in my work, namely responsibility and technology for sustainability. The questions of ‘with whose responsibility’ and ‘with what technology’ can sustainability be reached are closely related, yet often separately discussed areas of research. My research mission is to bring theorising on responsibility and technology together in the study of sustainable organisations, and the vision is to contribute to a theory and practice of sustainable organization.
Recent and forthcoming research activities
- Co-organiser of 3rd Peaceful Coexistence Colloquium, Helsinki (Finland)
- Co-organiser and session chair, Corporate Responsibility Research Confererence, Leeds (UK)
- Session co-chair, Annual Science and Technology Studies Symposium
- Keynote, Responsible Business Research Seminar (Vastuullisen liiketoiminnan tutkimuspäivät), Tampere (Finland)
- Organiser and chair, Ecology and Technology Seminar Series hosted by TECHSUS in cooperation with the Sustainability Research Institute, Leeds (UK)
- Session co-chair and presenter, YHYS Colloquium, Turku (Finland)
- Session co-chair and presenter, Corporate Responsibility Research Conference, Seville (Spain)
- Presenter, British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference, Brighton (UK)
- Researcher, Technology for Sustainability: Case Studies in Agriculture (TECHSUS), funded by the European Union, MSCA-IF-EF-RI, 2017-2019.
- Subtask Leader, Sustainable Organic and Low-Input Dairy Production (SOLID), funded by the European Union, FP7-KBBE-2010-4, 2011-2016.
- Principal Investigator / Project Leader, Elintarvikeketjun vastuullisuuden konseptointi liiketoimintamahdollisuudeksi [Developing Food Chain Responsibility into Business Opportunities] (FOODCHAINCR), funded by Tekes [The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation], Tuotantokonseptit, 2009-2012.
- Bonnedahl, Karl Johan and Heikkurinen, Pasi (eds.) (2019). Strongly Sustainable Societies: Organising Human Activities on a Hot and Full Earth. Routledge: London and New York.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (ed.) (2017). Sustainability and Peaceful Coexistence for the Anthropocene. Routledge: London and New York.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2013). Reframing Strategic Corporate Responsibility: From Economic Instrumentalism and Stakeholder Thinking to Awareness and Sustainable Development. Doctoral Dissertation. Aalto University: Helsinki.
Articles in Scholarly Periodicals
- Gold, Stefan and Heikkurinen, Pasi (2018). Transparency fallacy: Unintended consequences of stakeholder claims on responsibility in supply chains. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 31(1), 318-337
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2017). The relevance of von Wright’s humanism to contemporary ecological thought. Acta Philosophica Fennica, 93: 449-463.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2016). Degrowth by means of technology? A treatise for an ethos of releasement. Journal of Cleaner Production, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.070.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Mäkinen, Jukka (2016). Synthesising corporate responsibility on organisational and societal levels of analysis: An integrative perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, doi: 10.1007/s10551-016-3094-x.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi; Rinkinen, Jenny; Järvensivu, Timo; Wilén, Kristoffer; and Ruuska, Toni (2016). Organising in the Anthropocene: An Ontological Outline for Ecocentric Theorising. Journal of Cleaner Production, 113: 705-714.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2014). Kestävyyden käsitteen ulottuvuudet [Dimensions of the sustainability concept]. Tieteessä tapahtuu, 32(4): 10-16.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2013). Awareness and sustainability in business organisations: Leaving economic instrumentalism and stakeholder thinking behind. The Finnish Journal of Business Economics, 14 (3/4): 237-241.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Bonnedahl, Karl Johan (2013). Corporate responsibility for sustainable development: A review and conceptual comparison of market- and stakeholder-oriented strategies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 43: 191-198.
- Uusi-Rauva, Christa and Heikkurinen, Pasi (2013). Overcoming barriers to successful environmental advocacy campaigns in the organizational context. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 7(4): 475-492.
- Gold, Stefan and Heikkurinen, Pasi (2013). Corporate responsibility, supply chain management and strategy: In search of new perspectives for sustainable food production. Journal of Global Responsibility, 4(2): 276-291.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Ketola, Tarja (2012). Corporate responsibility and identity: from a stakeholder to an awareness approach. Business Strategy and the Environment, 21(5): 327-337.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Forsman-Hugg, Sari (2011). Strategic corporate responsibility in the food chain. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 18(5): 306-316.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Ketola, Tarja (2010). Editorial (special issue on corporate responsibility innovations for sustainability). International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 5(1): 1-3.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2010). Image differentiation with corporate environmental responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 17(3): 142-152.
Chapters in Edited Books
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Mäkinen, Jukka (2018). Integrative stakeholder engagement: A review and synthesis of economic, critical, and politico-ethical perspectives. In: Lindgreen et al., A Relational Approach to Stakeholder Engagement: A Research Anthology. Routledge: London.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2017). On the Emergence of Peaceful Coexistence. In Heikkurinen, Pasi (ed.), Sustainability and Peaceful Coexistence for the Anthropocene. Routledge: London and New York.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2017). Management approach: The virtuous corporation as a moral agent for sustainable development. In Sison, Alejo, José, G. (ed.), Springer Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management. Springer: Heidelberg.
- Ruuska, Toni and Heikkurinen, Pasi (2016). Kapitalistinen markkinatalous vai kestävä hyvinvointi? [Capitalistic market economy or sustainable wellbeing?]. In Joutsenvirta, Maria; Hirvilammi, Tuuli; Ulvila, Marko; Wilén, Kristoffer (eds.), Talous kasvun jälkeen [Economy after growth]. Gaudeamus: Helsinki.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2015). Heikko vai vahva kestävyys? [Weak or strong sustainability?] In Hetemäki, I., Raento, P., Sariola, H., Seppä, T. (eds.), Kaikkea sattuu [Everything happens]. Gaudeamus: Helsinki.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2014). Johdanto kestävyyteen [Introduction to sustainability]. In Joensuu, K., Järvinen, M., Sinkko, T. (eds.), Biotalousketjujen ekologinen, sosiaalinen ja taloudellinen kestävyys [Ecological, social and economic sustainability in bio-economy chains]. MTT: Jokioinen.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2012). Matka konferenssiin ja takaisin: Lentämisen moraalinen ongelma akateemisessa työssä [To the conference and back: The moral problem of flying in academic work]. In Räsänen, Keijo (ed.). Tutkijat keskustelevat - esseitä ja kirjeitä akateemisesta työstä [Researchers in conversations - essays and letters on academic work]. Aalto University: Helsinki.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi (2011). Environmental strategy and sustainability. In Idowu, Samuel, O.; Louche, Celine (eds.), Theory and Practice of Corporate Social Responsibility. Springer: Heidelberg.
Reports and Popular Writing
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Ruuska, Toni (2015). Kapitalismin hinta on kova [The price of capitalism is high]. Aamulehti, 14 January 2015.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Ruuska, Toni (2014). Kestävän kehityksen arkkiviholliset [The archenemies of sustainable development]. Elonkehä: Syväekologinen kulttuurilehti, 3: 60-65.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi and Ruuska, Toni (2014). Maailma tarvitsee kestävän elämän manifestin [The world needs a sustainable life manifesto]. Talouselämä: Debatti, 20 November 2014.
- Heikkurinen, Pasi; Jalkanen, Lotta; Järvelä, Katja; Järvinen, Maija; Katajajuuri, Juha-Matti; Koistinen, Laura; Kotro, Jaana; Mäkelä, Johanna; Pesonen, Hanna-Leena; Riipi, Inkeri; Ulvila, Kukka-Maaria; Forsman-Hugg, Sari (2012). Vastuullisuus ruokaketjussa: Eväitä johtamiseen, mittaamiseen ja viestintään [Responsibility in the food supply chain: Means for management, measurement, and communication]. MTT: Jokioinen.
- Riipi, Inkeri; Järvelä, Katja; and Heikkurinen, Pasi (2012). Vastuullisuuden työkaluja ruokaketjun yrityksille [Responsibility tools for companies in the food supply chain]. Elintarvike ja terveys, 26(5): 58-62.
- Docent in Sustainability and Organizations, Aalto University School of Business, FIN
- PhD, Economics and Business Administration, Aalto University School of Business, FIN
- MSc, Economics and Business Administration, University of Vaasa, FIN
- BSc, Economics and Business Administration, University of Vaasa, FIN
In both research and teaching, I emphasise transdisciplinary and holistic approaches, as well as perspectivism, as important means to gaining understanding of the prevailing unsustainability, and the needed, alternative pathways to organising human activities.
At Leeds, I have contributed to the deliverary of the following teaching activities:
- Business, Environment and Sustainability
- Business and Sustainable Development
- Research in the Environmental Social Sciences
- BA Environment & Business project supervision
- MSc Sustainability project supervision
I am particularly keen on working together with students who are intrinsically motivated to contribute to sustainable change. For supervision, my special fields of interest are:
- Anthropocene, capitalocene, naftocene, plutocene...
- business ethics and philosophy of management
- corporate social and environmental responsibility
- critical perspectives on technology
- deep ecology, ecofeminism
- degrowth, post-growth, and anti-growth
- sustainability of organizations and organizing
If you are interested in a PhD project related to these thematic areas, please contact me via email.
Research groups and institutes
- Business Organisations for Sustainable Societies