Corporate Sustainability: The Environmental Design and Human Resource Management Interface in Healthcare Settings

Article excerpt


Purpose of the Paper: The purpose of this study is to provide healthcare organizations with a new perspective for developing strategies to enrich their human resource capabilities and improve their performance outcomes. The focus of this study is on leveraging the synergy between organizational management strategies and environmental design interventions.

Background: This paper proposes a framework for linking the built environment with the human resource management system of healthcare organizations. The framework focuses on the impact of the built environment regarding job attitudes and behaviors of healthcare workers. Research from the disciplines of strategic human resource management, resource-based view of firms, evidence-based design, and green building are utilized to develop the framework.

Theoretical Framework: The positive influence of human resource practices on job attitudes and behaviors of employees is one mechanism to improve organizational performance outcomes. Organizational psychologists suggest that human resource practices are effective because they convey that the organization values employee contributions and cares about their well-being. Attention to employee socio-emotional needs can be reciprocated with higher levels of motivation and commitment toward the organization. In line with these findings, healthcare environmental studies imply that physical settings and features can have a positive influence on job attitudes and the behavior of caregivers by providing for their physical and socio-emotional needs.

Conclusions: Adding the physical environment as a complementary resource to the array of human resource practices creates synergy in improving caregivers' job attitudes and behaviors and enhances the human capital of healthcare firms.

Keywords: Staff, evidence-based design, interdisciplinary, modeling, perceived organizational support


Corporations can be seen as business entities that form the economic system of a society. Corporations can also be viewed as social artifacts composed of institutionalized activities. As such, when it comes to enterprises, the term sustainability represents two separate but interrelated concepts: (1) creating an enduring competitive advantage for companies to stay in business and (2) meeting their responsibilities toward the sustainable development of the society in which they conduct their activities. As suggested by Baumgartner and Ebner (2010), Dyllick and Hockerts (2002), and Khan (1995), to succeed in these two aspects organizations need to obtain and use a wide array of resources, including economic, social, and ecological capital. This article deals with the first aspect of corporate sustainability, which is the way organizational resources are used for creating an enduring competitive advantage.

One approach for study of sustainability of competitive advantages is the resource-based view (RBV) of firms first proposed by Wernerfelt (1984). He described how creating the bundle of valuable resources can result in a competitive advantage for organizations and argued that differences in firm performance come from the differences in the resources they own. As advocates of RBV, Wright, McMahan, and McWilliams (1994) suggest that in order for an organization to have an enduring competitive advantage, it has to acquire different types of capital (economic, social, and ecological) and combine them to create value-generating resources often referred to as an organizational resource bundle.

Organizational resource bundles contribute to performance advantage to the extent that they are rare, costly to imitate, and nonsubstitutable (Armstrong & Shimizu, 2007; Barney, 1991; Dyllick & Hockerts, 2002; Sirmon, Hitt, & Gove, 2008). According to Barney (1991), the firm's competitors should not possess the same resource bundle, not be able to easily recreate its value, nor be able to generate the same outcome by using an alternative resource bundle. …


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