Integration and organizational change towards sustainability

Robert Sroufe
  • Journal of Cleaner Production, September 2017, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.05.180

A study of global leaders ability to integrate sustainability into multinational companies.

What is it about?

This interdisciplinary study examines why and how corporate leaders operationalize sustainability in organizational strategy, systems and activities. Through interviews with sustainability professionals using a cross-industry sample of multinational organizations recognized as top performers by multiple sources (Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Newsweek Green Rankings, GRI, and KLD), the research identified drivers, enablers, evaluation methods and change management practices for corporate social, environmental and financial initiatives. Using multiple coders, and an analysis of responses to structured interview questions, we determine how sustainability professionals influence the alignment of sustainability goals, mission and values at leading organizations. Scholarly contributions include insight into how top performing companies manage change involving social and environmental responsibility. Insights come from primary research with the individuals who anchor those corporate sustainability initiatives providing a foundation for further theory development and testing of propositions. The key findings include integration as a systems-based approach to sustainability, change management, innovation, and corporate strategy. Integration takes place through the alignment of performance metrics within and across business units and functions with a call for Integrated Bottom Line performance measurement throughout organizations and value chains to inform management decision-making, transparency, and external reporting. Predictions are that integration and change management are critical success factor for the advancement of strategic sustainability initiatives. CITATION: Sroufe, R. (2017). Integration and organizational change towards sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production, 162, 315-329.

Why is it important?

It is important to recognize the opportunity for integrating sustainability across functions within an enterprise. Results of the qualitative analysis posit multiple research propositions for future work in the evolving fields of sustainability, Integrated Bottom Line performance, and change management.


Dr Robert Sroufe
Duquesne University

Learning from global heads of sustainability in multinational companies, this article provides new insights as to how and why sustainability has been integrated into leading companies.

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