What is SnO Center?

SnO Center

Society and Organizations (SnO) is an inter-disciplinary center at HEC Paris whose members research on and teach about the contemporary challenges that organizations face and how these organizations (e.g.  firms, NGOs, rating agencies, regulators) mold society. 

Contemporary challenges include, but are not limited to, climatic constraints, social inequality, technological disruption, ecological values, ethical imperatives, liberalization, regulation, and more. 

SnO’s mission statement is to contribute to our understanding of these phenomena, accompany actors of these transformations, and prepare future generations of managers to lead in these complex environments.

To further anchor HEC Paris strategy of putting social impact at the heart of business policy, SnO Center cofounded the Movement for Social*Business Impact in November 9, 2016, in  presence of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and top representatives from six multinationals among whom Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone. It is currently managing its development and has integrated it into its research and teachings. This ambitious new initiative aims at contributing to a more inclusive economy, where businesses maximize both their social impact and their business performance.

SnO's action is based on 3 levers: a Think tank, a Teach tank and an Action Tank supported by numerous actors.

A Center of Excellence for research
Founded in 2008 under the aegis of Rodolphe Durand, the SnO Center brings together today forty professors and PhD students from HEC Paris. Our research approach combines a broad range of methods tailored to the phenomena under study and uses theoretical lenses coming from various disciplines including: economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and history. These are combined with our management focus. This research is conducted in partnership with other leading academic institutions in Europe and North America.
Research which directly addresses the challenges of our time
The SnO Center offers new ways of understanding the world, helping organizations to reconcile economic priorities with a new series of imperatives. The research conducted by the Center’s academics tackles concrete issues and produces applicable results. Examples abound and include the improvement of environmental communication; the establishment of a sustainable development policy across the various entities of a multinational group; the creation of responsible finance; the integration of new energy sources; the promotion of a circular economy; the establishment of public-private partnerships; the examination of the role of NGOs; the creation of new standards and regulations, as well as the elaboration of new forms of work incentives; and attempts to manage or reduce inequalities at work.
Research of global significance
The SnO Center has become a vibrant center of reflection recognized throughout Europe. Over the past four years, the Center’s members have already produced more than 80 research papers, of which more than half of which have been published in leading academic journals. Through its publications, academic exchanges and partnerships, organization of international events (the Medici Summer School, the European Theory Development Workshop) and its doctoral scholarship scheme, the SnO Center is proudly contributing to the development of an international research community concerned with key contemporary challenges.

A school to shape the future

The SnO Center aims to blend its research into the curriculum and teaching methods of HEC programs. The objective is clear: to train managers capable of grasping the major challenges of our times and becoming leading players in the transformation of business and society.

Developing and diffusing new knowledge
The SnO Center is currently hard at work developing innovative teaching methods which will ensure that all students receive a grounding in contemporary challenges during their studies at HEC Paris. These initiatives include the ‘Sustainable GlobStrat’ business game, along with FACT (Field in Action) applied classes which give first-year students the opportunity to participate in real projects alongside social entrepreneurs in France and elsewhere.

Two MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) were launched in 2015 and 2016: “Time to Reorganize! Understand Organizations, Act, and Build a Meaningful World” and “How to become a social entrepreneur”. The SnO Center is also working on reorganizing and reinforcing existing courses and specialized programs (Master in Sustainable & Social Innovation, Social Business/Enterprise & Poverty among others).

Assimilating new ways of being
Achieving a better understanding of oneself is an essential condition for the development of responsible leadership, and the SnO Center is in the process of establishing a program of seminars and a dedicated coaching platform designed to help students gain such understanding and truly reflect upon their values, their personal drivers, and their professional ambitions. The SnO Center will also place renewed emphasis on the value of experience in the field, crucial to the development of future decision-makers who are responsible and open-minded.


To contribute to a more inclusive economy, in France and in other developed countries as well as in developing nations, the SnO Center facilitates experimentations by bringing together HEC Paris academics, large firms, government members and heads of the non-profit organizations.

In France, the SnO Center has a privileged partnership with the Action Tank “Business and Poverty”, an innovative project incubator launched by the HEC Paris Social Business/Enterprise and Poverty Chair. The Action Tank brings together academia, multinational corporations, the public sector and charity organizations with the goal of experimenting new business models to offer essential services to the number of the French population that suffers from economic poverty, and spatial and social isolation.

In developing countries, students and professors work on designing economic models focusing on accessibility for the Base of the Pyramid. The companies they have worked with include Schneider Electric, Kraft, Danone, Bouygues, Bel Group…

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