Vincent Rittener-Ruff wins the oikos Sustainability Award 2009
The concept of Corporate Sustainability is difficult to grasp. Each firm seems to have its own standards and criteria, which again deviate from the benchmarks set by NGOs, governments, and researchers. How can we then more objectively assess a firm's actual contribution to Sustainability? In his Master's Thesis "Holcim Sustainability Value - A Corporate Assessment of the Sustainability Value Approach", Vincent Rittener-Ruff deals with this intricate question by applying and evaluating the "Sustainability Value Approach" (SVA), a new method in the field of Sustainability measurement.
First, the goal of his Master's thesis was to assess the sustainability performance of Holcim, compared to other companies in the construction and materials sector. Rittener-Ruff found that the contribution of the construction and materials sector to sustainability is very low. Moreover, Holcim was not able to increase its sustainability value in the observed years (2005-06), as a result of the low sustainability performance of the companies acquired during this period. Second, evaluating the SVA, Rittener-Ruff pointed out that this method can be powerful for intrasectoral comparisons, but not yet for intersectoral analyses.
The jury acknowledged that Rittener-Ruff tackled the relevant, but difficult issue of sustainability measurement. He showed that he was able to apply and criticize a relatively new method on a high academic level. Moreover, his research contributes both to the public debate on corporate sustainability, and to the improvement of quantitative methods in this field.
Vincent Rittener-Ruff holds a B. Sc. in Economics from the University of Lausanne and an M. A. in Accounting and Finance from the University of St. Gallen. During his time as a working student in the Corporate Strategy and Risk Management Team at Holcim (2007-08) he was able to do research in the field of Sustainability and gathered information for his Master's Thesis. In his new position as a Finance Trainee at Vestas Wind Systems (Sweden), he can pursue his interest in the field of renewable energies.
The oikos Sustainability Thesis Award receives friendly support by The UsitawiNetwork Zürich.