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Sustainability Center News

Karthik Ramachandran, Basak Kalkanci, and Qiuping Yu.
Karthik Ramachandran, Basak Kalkanci, and Qiuping Yu.

Sustainability Faculty Publish Op-Eds on Social Impact, Supplier Transparency, and Minimum Wage

This summer, faculty from the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business published op-eds on sustainability-related research in Harvard Business Review and Just Style. The three faculty are affiliates of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (“Center”).

On August 17, Associate Professor Karthik Ramachandran, along with his co-writers Atalay Atasu and Can Zhang, published “How NGOs Can Help More People with DIY Solutions” in Harvard Business Review. The op-ed shares research on how resource-constrained welfare organizations can maximize impact by using a partial-completion strategy. Moving from an off-the-shelf mode of delivery to a partial-DIY paradigm reduces the time and money needed to gather specific information about individuals’ needs. With partially completed products (such as houses in locations hit by natural disasters), recipients can finish their products according to their personal tastes and requirements. (On January 28, Ramachandran presented a talk on the subject in the Center’s Business, Environment, and Society [BES] Speaker Series. Click here to view the recording.)

Associate Professor Basak Kalkanci and her co-author Erica L. Plambeck published an op-ed on Just Style, an apparel sourcing and textile industry news source, on June 21. “When Does Supplier Transparency Really Benefit Apparel Brands?” shares results of a study that sheds light on how, under certain conditions, a firm’s commitment to publishing a list of approved suppliers motivates suppliers to work towards eliminating safety, environmental, or other responsibility violations—and also increases the buying firm’s expected profit. Greater transparency, the authors claim, can be a profitable approach to mitigating social and environmental violations (e.g., hazardous working conditions in factories and dumping of wastewater toxins) in apparel supply chains. (This research is also shared in a Sustainable Business Insights research brief and a recorded BES talk from March 17.

Harvard Business Review published the op-ed, “Research: When a Higher Minimum Wage Leads to Lower Compensation,” by Assistant Professor Qiuping Yu and her co-authors Shawn Mankad and Masha Shunko on June 10. While proponents of raising the minimum wage claim the hike is needed to provide workers with a living wage, the authors’ research raises a red flag. Increasing the minimum wage, in fact, can have a significant negative impact on the total compensation of hourly workers and the consistency of schedules. Research at a national retailer revealed that workers who experienced a minimum wage hike on average worked fewer hours per week, were less likely to qualify for benefits, and had less consistent schedules. The authors argue that policymakers should complement wage hikes with policies designed to ensure consistent schedules and adequate hours for workers. (The Wall Street Journal also published an op-ed, “More Hidden Costs in the Fight for $15,” on this research on June 22, and this research was shared in a recorded BES talk on October 12, 2020.)

Scheller College faculty members represent an impressive depth of expertise and activity in sustainability. Within their own fields of study—from operations and finance to business ethics and marketing—faculty members investigate numerous aspects of sustainability. This expertise, combined with Georgia Tech's strong science and technology capabilities, creates an ecosystem with enormous potential for long-term educational, economic, and social impact. Click here to learn more about Center-affiliated faculty members’ research and thought leadership.

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Brandi Thompson
Communications Officer