Thomas P. Lyon

Dow Chair of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce

Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy

Professor of Environment and Sustainability

Director, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Thomas P. Lyon holds the Dow Chair of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce at the University of Michigan, with appointments in both the Ross School of Business and the School of Environment and Sustainability.  He is President of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), and Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan.  He earned his BSE from Princeton University, and MS and PhD degrees from Stanford University.  Professor Lyon is a leader in using economic analysis to understand corporate environmental strategy, especially in the energy industry, and how it is shaped by emerging government regulations, non-governmental organizations, and consumer demands.  His book Corporate Environmentalism and Public Policy, published by Cambridge University Press, was the first rigorous economic analysis of this increasingly important topic.   Lyon is a Senior Editor at Organization & Environment, and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy and the Journal of Regulatory Economics. His current research focuses on the impacts of information disclosure, the role of private governance mechanisms (especially ecolabeling) in solving environmental problems, the factors motivating regulatory compliance, and the role of corporations in shaping government policy.

Professor Lyon has been a Visiting Professor at the Scuola Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy (Fulbright Grant), the University of Chicago (Olin Foundation Fellowship), Resources for the Future (Gilbert White Fellowship), Stanford University, the University of Paris, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the University of Basel, the University of Bonn, UCLA, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Alcoa Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  He has served as an expert witness for a variety of organizations, including the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, AT&T, and Cogentrix.  He has also consulted for a wide range of organizations, including US Foods, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), KPMG, Consumers Power, Huron Consulting Group, Industrial Economics, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Department of Energy.


World Sustainability Award

"Professor Lyon is an economist and a leading light in corporate sustainability, both for the lines of research he has opened up and the organizations he has led that create professional opportunities in the corporate sustainability space.  He has written path-breaking papers on self-regulation, regulatory preemption, voluntary environmental programs, greenwashing, astroturfing, and corporate political responsibility, which have been cited more than 10,000 times.  As President of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), he created new avenues for scholarly success in the area of corporate sustainability, and helped numerous emerging scholars secure tenured positions in this field.  As Director of Michigan's Erb Institute, he has helped hundreds of MBA students find career paths that combine business success with their passion for protecting the natural environment.  He coined the phrase 'corporate political responsibility' (CPR) in an influential article, and created a CPR Taskforce that is bringing this idea into the world of business practice"

Featured Books 

Corporate Political Responsibility

Behind closed doors, many large companies quietly use their political clout to influence public policy on social and environmental issues – often in a negative direction. This book seeks to create a new norm for responsible political behaviour by corporations. It brings together leading scholars of corporate political responsibility with leading organizations that have been working to support companies in adopting more responsible political practices. The contributors present new evidence on what motivates firms to become more responsible and how markets view corporate 'dark money' spending. They also explain how activists have pressed companies to play a more responsible role in politics. With a particular focus on climate change and the important role of corporate lobbying in supporting or blocking climate policy, this volume leads the way forward for researchers, activists and citizens who seek a future in which corporate political influence is transparent, accountable and responsible. 

Featured Stories 

CSR Needs CPR: Corporate Sustainability And Politics

As featured on the CPRT Resource List

Winner of the Best Article of 2019 in CMR

Featured Presentations

The Past and Future of Nonmarket Strategy Research

Dr. Thomas Lyon: Corporate Sustainability Initiatives 

Recent Podcast

Beyond ESG - Corporate Political Responsibility

On Corporate Counsel Business Journal's podcast - In House Warrior

In this episode of In House Warrior, Thomas Lyon, the Dow Chair of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce, with appointments in both the Ross School of Business and the School of Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan and author of Corporate Environmentalism and Public Policy, speaks with host Richard Levick of LEVICK about how ESG and CSR fail to fully measure a company’s social brand. In an age of increased transparency, this alignment is becoming critical to a company’s reputation, brand, resilience and share price.

Listen to this episode of In House Warrior here.