Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Management Behavior toward the Integration of Sustainability

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Management Behavior toward the Integration of Sustainability

Article excerpt

In recent years, aggressive competition among multinational corporations has brought moral and ethical issues to the forefront. The depletion of natural resources, the exploitation of local economies, and unethical financial transactions have given rise to consumers' and shareholders' concerns about organizational behavior. In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment Development (UNWCED) defined the term "sustainable development" as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." As a result, corporate sustainability has been gaining importance within the executive sphere, and organizational leaders have been gradually aligning sustainability to performance.

Organizations are expected to address sustainability holistically, considering the planet, people, and profit, referred to as the "triple-bottom-line," also known as 3Ps. It is imperative to know the types of initiatives associated with business sustainability. The initiatives within the environmental dimension address energy-use, water-use, material-use, and gas emission when companies are in operation. The social dimension features initiatives addressing employee satisfaction, supplier engagement, community relations, and philanthropy. The economic dimension includes initiatives related to financial performance, productivity, learning and development, and customers and market (Hubbard, 2006).

The discourse on corporate sustainability has become ubiquitous within organizational literature due to companies' unsavory practices. Although many organizations claim to have been designing business strategies to include sustainability, it meets with resistance at all levels of management. A new form of leadership is required, one that employs a socially responsible approach within the management system. Sustainability within management literature, also called "business sustainability," raises the concern that it is still viewed by managers as a financial burden. As companies struggle to embrace this new discipline within the management domain, scholars advance the agenda by identifying flaws in how it is being addressed. A vast body of literature provides insights on how organizations can benefit from establishing a function that integrates socially responsible behavior while improving organizational performance. Even as scholars and practitioners are challenged with making a conclusive business case for organizational sustainability, pressure from stakeholders forces more visible and prominent organizations to place it within the business culture.

After five years of viewing corporate sustainability reports, this study reports how managers are responding to stakeholders' requests to integrate sustainability within the business process. It contributes to the existing literature by identifying ways in which managers are advancing the agenda within their companies. Both scholars and practitioners are encouraged to pay more attention to corporate sustainability reporting because it conveys information that helps us to evaluate the changing behavior of organizations over time.

Perspectives on Upper Management and the Corporate Sustainability Agenda

Upper-level managers are responsible for creating the strategic agenda, setting the tone and providing resources to support initiatives that will create value for their customers. Companies are expected to include corporate sustainability within the strategic sphere as a new form of value. Corporate sustainability is a holistic approach to addressing economic prosperity, environmental integrity, and social equity as part of the business operation. Although stakeholders relentlessly press corporations to adopt more socially responsible behavior, it is still not fully embraced within the strategic sphere (Robinson, Kleffner, and Bertels, 2011). In recent years, leaders' roles in addressing this pressing issue has come under scrutiny. …

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