Exploring Holistic Sustainability

Inter Business was an independent knowledge lab operating 2017–2022. Over these five years, it undertook an exploratory journey together with business leaders, sustainability experts, non-profit founders, philanthropists, students, and other curious minds, to examine holistic sustainability.

At the core of Inter Business’ work was its framework for holistic sustainability. The four pillars of this framework are key organisational competences which together indicate the ability for sustainable development in an ever-changing world:

  1. Purpose: Understanding and framing why an organization excites and the core impact of its contribution
  2. Systems approach: Grappling with the global and partial systems in which any organizations act, as well as the fact that each station of these systems, however remote, are populated by humans (or nature)
  3. Empathy: Being able to use cognitive empathy, or social intelligence, to take the perspective of stakeholders near and far, to truly learn about needs and motivations
  4. Transformation: Practicing the pain and the bliss of continuous learning, adapting, and growing – in short, the practice of transformation

Based on this framework Inter Business undertook several projects including presenting an index listing the 50 largest corporations in Sweden, including H&M and Volvo for example, based on their application of the four key organisational competences; transformation projects for traditional social work organizations; impact measurement and evaluation methods; dialogues and seminars and publications and more.

The work of Inter Business resulted in the publication of six articles in international academic journals. Please follow the links to read:

  • Developing a Human Centered Business Index: Developing a Human Centered Business Index – Leading with Purpose, Empathy, Systems-Approach and Resilience in ‘Business Beyond Sustainability’, The European Public & Social Innovation Review (2016)
  • The Inter Business Index: The Inter Business Index: Developing a Tool for Measurement and Comparability of Holistic Sustainability in Businesses, Journal of Management and Sustainability (2017)
  • Swedish Business Leaders Prospecting Sustainability: Swedish Business Leaders Prospecting Sustainability – Finding the Future with Purpose, Systems Approach, Empathy & Transformation, Business and Management Studies (2018)
  • What Purpose Does a Company Serve? What Purpose Does a Company Serve in the World? Swedish Students and Sustainability Professionals in Dialogue on Corporate Sustainability, Journal of Business Theory and Practice (2018)
  • Almost Interconnected: Almost interconnected – How Sweden’s 50 Largest Companies Apply a System Approach to Sustainability, Applied Science and Innovative Research (2018)
  • Transformation of Swedish CSOs: Transformation of Swedish CSOs Using the Strengths of Purpose and Empathy, Applied Science and Innovative Research (2019)

Inter Business was founded by Johanna Hallin, and based in Stockholm, Sweden, it engaged stakeholders from California to Cambodia.

Our most heartfelt gratitude goes out to each person and organization which engaged in this work. Thank you ♥