Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

Indicators of Organizational Sustainability: A Proposition from Organizational Competences

Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

Indicators of Organizational Sustainability: A Proposition from Organizational Competences

Article excerpt


Sustainability is a popular theme in society and has also entered organizations under the denomination Organizational Sustainability (OS). The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) (Elkington, 1999) is a hierarchical model that delimits the OS, defending its division into three pillars: economic, environmental and social. The TBL also advocates the evaluation of the pillars in the performance measures in a balanced form, without prioritizing one over the others. Even with these guides, current literature is scarce in management instruments for the OS, therefore suggesting the use of competences as support for this phenomenon (Munck, Munck, & Souza, 2011). The idea of competence allows the for the visualization of the OS as a phenomenon that occurs in levels, advocating that an organization should not be seen as sustainable or not, but rather as holding a certain OS level.

Due to the intangibility of competence, arises the concept of delivery, which suggests that evaluations of competence should visualize their deliveries, in other words, the results and actions arising from the fact that an organization holds a certain competence. The OS framework presented (Munck, Munck, & Souza, 2011) is part of a study of the competences of an OS, suggesting that the OS competence (central competence) is supported by the economic OS, the environmental OS and the social OS (key competences). From this emerges the objective of the present paper, to point the outcomes (viewed as indicators) that denote the plain development of the key competences and consequently of the central competence. Based on the extensive literature of the subject, the present research elaborates a set of indicators the may be used as a measurement of the OS competence in any organization.

Organizational Sustainability (OS)

Organizational sustainability (OS) has become a popular theme over the last few years, which has lead organizations to come under great pressure from markets and legislations, and have thus sought to align themselves with sustainability, originating the term OS. By reaching in the direction of sustainability, organizations seek legitimacy before markets, increasing their scope and securing greater financial returns. In the context of OS, the Triple Bottom Line (Elkington, 1999) comes to light, which advocates that the traditional business model, that considers only economic factors in the appraisal of a company, should be expanded to a new model by also contemplating the organization's environmental and social performance, as well as the financial.

The Triple Bottom Line offers guidelines so that organizations approach sustainability. This way, being the Triple Bottom Line a model conceived for the organizational sphere and widely accepted by various authors (Callado, 2010; Hoff, 2008; Dyllick & Hockerts, 2002; Savitz & Weber, 2006), including empirical works in the area (Souza, 2010; Cella-de-Oliveira, 2012; Bansi, 2013; Dias, 2013), its is chosen as the guide for this work. Other authors do not cite the Triple Bottom Line, but segment the OS in similar pillars (Passet, 1996; Sachs, 1990; Azapagic, 2003).

By what has been stated, it is inferred that the OS, by mainaining a balance between the economic, environmental and social perspective, is concerned as much by the organizations and shareholders financial interests, as with supporting the the natural environment and the social relations under the influence of the organization (stakeholders).

A large amount of organizations (Hahn & Scheermesser, 2006) have faced constant environmental changes and suffered pressure from legislations and society, forcing them to seek alignment with sustainability. One of the main obstacles of the OS is the confrontation with the economic pillar, since, in the classic view, organizations have as sole function the maximization of the shareholders capital.

The idea of a company aligned with sustainability is that of company activities developed in a social- environmental context which conditions the quality and the availability of natural and human capital. …

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