Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Principles of Sustainable Development of Businesses on the Adaptive Lifecycle Dimension of Connectedness

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Principles of Sustainable Development of Businesses on the Adaptive Lifecycle Dimension of Connectedness

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Sustainable Development (SD) can be defined as "Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (WCED, 1987). SD of business involves preservation and enhancement of the stock of resources - financial, ecological, societal, human, physical and others - on which businesses depend upon quantitatively and qualitatively, in the short- and long-run (Stiglitz et al, 2009). SD of business also involves reduction of waste and risks in the socio-ecological context (Hanson et al, 2010). This must be done, while meeting the materialistic needs of society at appropriate prices, quality and timeframes. Unless SD of business is measured on the triple bottom line of people (society), planet (ecology) and profit/prosperity (economy), it cannot be achieved. (Elkington, 1998).

The following issues with regard to sustainable Development of Business were discussed in Self Reference (2013)

a. The three dimensions, potential, connectedness and resilience, characterising the sustainability over the adaptive lifecycle in the Panarchy Model

b. The gaps in the existing literature on the principles of SD of business. This include the lack of principles at a higher level of abstraction and lack of cohesive and complete set uf principles.

c. The process of analogical reasoning in general, including its strengths and limitations

d. Suitability of ecological systems in the context of SD of business

e. The overarching principle of SD of business, namely "Manage with life cycle orientation"

In this paper principles of SD of business on the dimension of 'Connectedness', is derived and inferred in detail using the same process as in Selfreference, 2013. The source context for the same is sustainability of ecological systems and the target context is the Sustainable Development (SD) of business. These are discussed at 2 levels, namely socio-economic system (SE), and machine/technology system (MT).

2. The Dimension of Connectedness

Ecological systems consists of 3 dimensions that contribute to its sustainability over the self adaptive life cycle, as in Panarchy model (Gunderson and Holling, 2002). Business systems also seem to possess these 3 dimensions contributing to its sustainability (Simmie and Martin, 2010). Principles of SD of business related to the dimensions of connectedness or internal relationships are discussed in detail in this paper.

'Connectedness' can be loosely defined as internal relationships. In ecological systems 'connectedness' refers tothe extent of diffusion or connectedness of internal elements (variables) through their connections and relationships (processes). These could include the connectedness between and among species and non-living matter in ecological systems. Low connectedness in the system is an indication of diffused elements that are loosely coupled. Hence, the behaviour of the system is dominated more by outward relations and affected largely by outside variability. High connectedness means tight coupling among the aggregated elements, with the system's behaviour being dominated more by inward relationships among the aggregate elements. The high connectedness enables mediation or control of the influence of variability of external elements (e.g. temperature regulation in warm blooded animals, which involves five different physiological mechanisms).

In a business context, 'connectedness' refers to the internal relationships of actors and components (traded and un-traded dependencies between stakeholders, units within and outside the organization, local networks of trust, formal and informal associations, social networks, knowledge spillovers, patterns of mobility within and from outside the network). This is similar to the concept of connectedness in ecosystems, but also includes the idea of actors (human stakeholders with foresight and conscious choice). Clearly, connectedness is one of the key dimensions that leads to sustainability of ecological systems and analogously business systems. …

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