GRI Case

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): Seeking Growth with Integrity

Nicole Hutchinson, University of Windsor, Gerry Kerr, University of Windsor, Alan J. Richardson, University of Windsor and York University
January 12, 2021
North America
Strategy & General Management, Human Resources & Organizational Behavior, Ethics & Social Justice
18 pages
nonprofit organizations, sustainability, standards setting, Organizational Structure, Growth Strategy Assessment
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.68)
Average rating: 

Early in 2017, and after just six months as CEO, Tim Mohin considered options to support the recent structural changes at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the global leader in standard-setting for corporate sustainability reporting. The GRI was very near completion of a major organizational reset that erected a firewall between standards-setting activities and everything else, including all those related to the projects and services that generated crucial revenue. The intent was to reinforce the validity and integrity of the GRI’s primary product, the standards.  The new structure had also substantially increased costs, however. The GRI’s financial position and the pressure being exerted on the organization were assessed. In response, a number of growth options were being considered. The key question was clear: How best could Mohin grow GRI revenue?

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Identify the primary value-adding activities, resources, and capabilities of a leading standards-setting organization, understand the conflict of interest concerning revenue generation that is commonly faced, and explain how a governance solution can be implemented.
  2. Link foundational decisions like those related to restructuring with their financial and corporate strategy implications.
  3. Assess a complex environment, including the key drivers in the macro environment and operating environment.
  4. Assess the potential risks, benefits, and organizational requirements of the available options for enlarging the scope of the firm (growth).
  5. Synthesize the results of the analysis of options into a simple set of recommendations.