Exploring The Pitfalls of Systemic Innovations for Sustainability Through A Mathematical frame
Systemic innovation is an important mechanism to deliver influential solutions for sustainability challenges, but it
occurs rarely. Increasing sustainability challenges firms to improve the system as a whole through broadening their
engagement in delivering game-changing innovations. This repositioning of sustainability increases complexity.
Ourempirical case study explores the logic used by business leaders in large Finnish firms when discussing the challenges
that hold back systemic innovation for sustainability. We describe the mathematics of complexity and translate firms'
responses into a mathematical frame. The findings demonstrate that although all industries are advanced in integrating
sustainability principles into their operations, they have stalled at the hurdle of delivering genuine systemic innovation for
sustainability. Firms are able to conceptualize the complexity inherent in systemic innovation; but they are stalled at acting
because they are unwilling or unable to integrate complexity into their tools and process in practice. We suggest that this
inability correlates with managers’ pre-complex mathematical acumen, and propose further research to understand and
address this issue.
Keywords - Systemic innovation; innovation management; sustainable transition; sustainable development; mathematical
frame; case study