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Sustainable open innovation to address a grand challenge : Lessons from Carlsberg and the Green Fiber Bottle

Marcel Bogers (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark) (Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA)
Henry Chesbrough (Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA) (Maire Tecnimont Professor of Open Innovation, Luiss University, Rome,Italy)
Robert Strand (Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA) (Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 28 January 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This paper describes the case of how the Danish beer manufacturer, Carlsberg, developed the Green Fiber Bottle as part of its sustainability program through an open innovation approach in collaboration with complementary partners. It thereby illustrates how a grand challenge associated with sustainability can be effectively addressed through open innovation and reveals the opportunities and challenges that emerge in that context.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper summarizes some key elements of the case and, in particular, discusses some of the lessons learned, which can be further explored in future research, practice, and policy.

Findings

The case suggests a number of key issues that are relevant when attempting to address grand challenges, in general, and sustainability in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, in particular, namely: leveraging open innovation in the face of sustainability as a grand challenge; sustainability beyond a solid business case; opportunities and challenges in the face of new business models; the importance of early wins for addressing societal challenges for signals and scaling; and the importance of the Nordic context and long-term vision.

Originality/value

The case describes a recent (and to some extent still ongoing) initiative of how a particular F&B company has explored new approaches to developing its sustainability program. Therefore, it highlights some of the unique characteristics of this case. This paper also lays the groundwork for the establishment of “Sustainable Open Innovation” as a domain in its own right.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper draws on the Berkeley–Haas Case Series teaching case “Sustainability Through Open Innovation: Carlsberg and the Green Fiber Bottle,” written by Henry W. Chesbrough, Marcel Bogers, and Robert Strand, with the assistance of Elizabeth Whalen. Marcel Bogers has conducted scientifically independent research on “Moving from Societal Challenges to Sustainable Solutions,” which was previously funded by the Carlsberg Foundation (grant number CF17-0930). He would also like to acknowledge the support of the Novo Nordisk Foundation (grant number NNF16OC0021630). Robert Strand has conducted scientifically independent research on “Establishing the Global Research Paradigm: Sustainability in a Scandinavian Context,” which was previously funded by the Carlsberg Foundation (grant number 2013_01_0515). The authors are listed in alphabetical order.

Citation

Bogers, M., Chesbrough, H. and Strand, R. (2020), "Sustainable open innovation to address a grand challenge : Lessons from Carlsberg and the Green Fiber Bottle", British Food Journal, Vol. 122 No. 5, pp. 1505-1517. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2019-0534

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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