Q&A with Kevin Dooley
Dr. Dooley is a professor of Supply Chain Management and Dean’s Council of 100 Distinguished Scholar in the W. P. Carey School of Business, and an affiliated faculty member of the School of Sustainability. He is a world-known expert in applying complexity science to help organizations improve and has consulted with numerous global companies, including Motorola, Raytheon, Citibank, and Toyota. As senior advisor at the Sustainability Consortium, he is responsible for leading sustainability research initiatives in electronic products, home and personal care products, life cycle analysis, and consumer science.
How did “sustainability” become part of your research focus?
Two years ago, several colleagues asked me to help them in a study about green purchasing. At the same time the School of Business needed someone to interact with the Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability. During my ensuing crash course to learn about sustainability I became convinced that I not only could, but should, make a professional commitment to address sustainability. One of my first projects involved studying the environmental impacts of seaports — collecting data to see if port efficiency and environmental excellence can co-exist.
What is your most important sustainability-related research project?
At the Sustainability Consortium we are developing the standards and systems needed to assess consumer product sustainability across the entire supply chain and product life cycle. This work will drive innovation for improving global consumer product sustainability. Our project started with a major gift from Walmart and we have added more than 40 additional retailers and manufacturers as members in less than a year, including Best Buy, General Mills, Cargill, and Waste Management.
How will your research affect policy or other “real world” decisions?
The Sustainability Consortium provides a natural platform to diffuse product research directly into companies and government agencies. Companies such as Intel or Dial-Henkel can use the research to improve their operations, while government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.K. Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs can use it set policy.
What world sustainability challenge concerns you most?
As a sustainability-aware person, I know Earth’s systems are in big trouble. As a business school professor, I know we’ll be hard-pressed to shed the habits of our current consumer economy. I am working to find the common ground that will make sustainability work.
March 31, 2010