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Accounting for sustainability: How to influence your customers’ perception of value

Misum researchers investigate how suppliers can use accounting tools to influence their customers into making more sustainable purchasing decisions.

In summer of 2022 Misum kicked off a research collaboration with Alfa Laval, a global provider of industrial technologies based in Lund, Sweden. Alfa Laval was interested in understanding how customers of heat exchangers measure value in their purchasing decision making, and the potential for a value framework based on long-termism and sustainability within the industry. Currently, the purchasing behavior in the industry is skewed towards valuations based on purchase costs, rather than on the total lifecycle value of the product.

Torkel Strömsten, research director for the Misum Accounting Frameworks platform, together with master students Julia Herlogsson and Hannah Ohlsson, have been conducting research at Alfa Laval as an exploratory stage in the development of a long-term-based valuation framework. The team studied the interorganizational relationship between Alfa Laval and one of its clients, aiming to understand how the rise of sustainability can impact interorganizational dynamics and how suppliers can use accounting tools to their advantage.

They found that through understanding valuation practices, a supplier can influence how a customer assesses the offers of different providers and can become the constructor of value. If the customer is in the process of adopting sustainability goals, for example, one way to build value is to quantify sustainability by showing long-term cost savings or revenue growth. The first stage of the research resulted in a master thesis published by Hannah and Julia at the Stockholm School of Economics.

Working together with Alfa Laval has given us hands-on experience of the opportunities and challenges that a company faces when implementing sustainability initiatives.
Julia Herlogsson and Hannah Ohlsson
MSc in Accounting, Valuation and Financial Management at the Stockholm School of Economics
It was a pleasure for Alfa Laval to work with Misum. Throughout our collaboration, we got a better understanding of how we can position the sustainability impact of our offered solutions with more transparency. This will allow our customers to include more easily the sustainability impact as a decision parameter when making their investments decisions.
Jo Vanhoren
Business Unit President Welded Heat Exchangers at Alfa Laval

Alfa Laval is a leading global provider of first-rate products in the areas of heat transfer, separation and fluid handling. With these as its base, Alfa Laval aims to help enhance the productivity and competitiveness of its customers in various industries throughout the world, primarily in energy, the environment, food and the marine industry.



Andreea Preluca
Misum Stakeholder Engagement Manager