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CRIS Bulletin 2015/01
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CRIS Bulletin 2015/01
One of the earliest denitions of sustainable development was offered in the 1987 UN Bruntland Report
(United Nations, 1987, p. 16): "…to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs". In this respect, one can claim that sustainability reects
and entails certain responsibilities to others, shareholders and stakeholders, and the environment, both social
and natural. In general, a company is seen as an articial entity (Friedman, 1970), whose only responsibility
is to maximise its prots and use shareholders funds in a legal and protable way. However, companies have
responsibility beyond making own prots (Schwartz and Saiia, 2012, p. 4), since their impact goes beyond
simple market transactions. Prots should not be confused with power maximisation, as this might lead to
the omission of ethical considerations and fair practices. This paper will argue that by embracing sustainable
development as an ethical choice, a company satisfying certain environmental and social constraints can gain
long-term benets, even from a protability point of view, meeting the shareholder imperative of maximising
shareholder wealth. As a corollary, it will be shown that when dealing with strategy, innovation, and prot, a
shift of mind-set on the part of businesses is required: to move from short-termism to long-termism.
On the one hand, following Lomborg (2001), it may be argued that there is no statistical evidence that
the environment suffers as much as is often claimed. For example, there is no statistical evidence that the
quality of air in London would be poorer, on the contrary it has improved, or that forest area has decreased
(Lomborg, 2001, p. 10).
However, this does not mean that companies do not cause certain impacts (Schirone and Torkan, 2012). For
instance, one can look at the BP accident in the Gulf of Mexico or the activities of tobacco companies. Beyond
market transactions, companies use the environment, natural and social, to produce goods and services for
prot. While doing so, they affect the environment. Companies affect the market economy, employees, local
communities, and nature. Every company generates pollution, unnecessary waste, defects, stored materials,
excessive packaging, and other hidden costs in products' life cycles (Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 122);
these aspects harm business, since they are a sign of inefciency and thus economic waste. This indicates
that resources are allocated and used ineffectively (Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 122) and lack optimal
distribution. These activities therefore distract from companies' internal and market economies, which im-
pacts shareholder value creation, as operational performance, and hence maximisation of potential prots are
harmed. Besides, the environment also impacts companies' competitiveness and production-related activities
(Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 83; Schirone and Torkan, 2012, p. 182). Safe products and labour conditions
enable lower costs of accidents, allure customers, and strong regulations can protect companies' competitive
advantage (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 83). For instance, Toyota production affects both the environment
and the bottom line (Miel, 2011). Through its production and waste, Toyota affects not only the natural
environment, but also the economic health of the company in the long-term through reduced efciency (Por-
ter and van der Linde, 1995; Miel, 2011). Toyota's sustainability reports resulted in USD 500,000 of annual
savings. Eventually their hybrid technology also enabled them to reap competitive advantage, and eventually
other companies had to licence this technology (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 88).
Unsustainable practices harm society. Consumers are the ones who bear the costs (Porter and van der Linde,
1995, p. 122) of recycling, pollution, unnecessary packaging, or waste energy, since these all add to the cost of
production, reected in prices and tax payments. They can also cause price differentials, which is unfair to society.
The impact on nature, society, and economy raises
ethical issues when companies fail to maximise
utility through appropriate allocation of resources,
effective production, and distribution.
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Utilitarianism promotes the utility principle, which emphasises the greatest happiness of the greatest number,
as the foundation of morals (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 129). Hence, it represents the policy stance that aims
to improve aspects of life. The impact on the environment violates this principle, since it largely benets only
a small number, the producer, the company. Under the assumption that agents are fully rational and that
the outcomes of actions are quantitatively measurable, Jeremy Bentham (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 129)
proposes a framework based on the possibility of calculating benets and costs of specic sets of actions
to dene morality. This allows performing a hedonistic calculus (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 129) based on
outcomes in terms of pain and pleasure, the two masters under which humans live their lives. Protability
does increase pleasure for shareholders, but this does not imply there is no pain for others (Fisher and Lovell,
2009, p. 129). Pursuing sustainability is the good action to do, because the consequences benet the greatest
number and allow future generations to use resources in the same productive way, as people are able to now.
Cost-benet analysis is a typical tool for evaluating actions in this context. It is advantageous because companies
and shareholders often have misleading perceptions of costs. External and opportunity costs of sustainability
as well as costs of addressing regulations are incurred through unsustainable practices (Porter and van der
Linde,1995, p. 128). But, those long-term costs (Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 125), particularly related to
the environment, can be minimised, as has been shown, since innovation can be pursued with low investments
and short payback periods, and generate much greater savings. For example, Dow Chemical's (Porter and van
der Linde, 1995, p. 126; Holliday, 2001), under pressure to comply with a new law, redesigned its production,
which cost USD 240,000, but generated a savings of USD 2.4 million through the reuse of materials as raw inputs.
To justify sustainability to shareholders, cost-benet analysis enables the measurement of all the benets and
costs associated with a particular action. Companies thus need to identify costs and benets (Williams, 2008)
associated with a particular action. Then, they can evaluate those costs and benets with regard to time, dis-
counting, and risk. Finally, it is possible to measure the overall costs and benets and thus determine whether
or not to pursue the action (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 131).
However, cost-benet analysis can be problematic in the complex environment, where not everything
can be quantied (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 131). It is therefore in companies' interests to develop a
specic measure through suitable metrics that would allow the provision of evidence specic to companies'
business, such as "shareholder value added per pound of production" (Holliday, 2001, p. 6). Such evidence
can serve as justication through addressing shareholder value creation.
In addition to price differentials, ineffective production, waste, and pollution affect the distribution of ben-
ets and lead to unfair differences in the quality of the environment, opportunities, and prices of other
commodities people are exposed to. Successful businesses require a healthy society, since education, health
care, and equal opportunities are fundamental for a productive workforce (Porter and Kramer, 2006, p. 83;
Chouinard, Ellison and Ridgeway, 2011). Thus, from a strategic point of view, shareholder value is not max-
imised when the environment and the market suffer or when unequal opportunities result.
Rawls' general principle of justice (Rawls, 1999, p. 11) represents the principle stance and was developed
on the basis of the original position where political, economic, and social systems can be contrasted and the
principle of justice as fairness is dened in the veil of total ignorance. This ensures that no one is disadvan-
taged and no one is advantaged. In this position (Rawls, 1999, p. 11), agents are assumed to be rational and all
fundamental agreements are fair. This is why Rawls considers justice as fairness, as the original position is fair
to everyone, which conicts with inequality and unsustainable practices. However, Rawls' original position is
hypothetical and a certain degree of risk taking is needed. In such a position, Rawls (Fisher and Lovell, 2009,
p. 117) argues that a rational person would choose the "maximin" strategy, when the right option is the one
where the most disadvantaged are protected. The general principle is represented by two main principles of
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CRIS Bulletin 2015/01
justice, equal liberties and the equality principle (Rawls, 1999, p. 53). The equality principle has two criteria
(Rawls, 1999, p. 65), fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle. Therefore, Rawls recognises
differences among people, but those possessing better qualities and attributes should not benet at the ex-
pense of others (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 118). Based on the principle of fair opportunities, one can
derive a principle of responsibility. It is our own responsibility to ensure those fair opportunities. Collective
responsibility and process can meet this need. Thus, also counting ourselves as members of the future society,
the principle justies sustainable development in the name of fairness and equal opportunities for the next
generation. Furthermore, collaborations and collective processes improve impacts on the social and natural
environments (Nidumolu et al., 2014). They also benet shareholders, since collaborations can "create value
for everyone" by avoiding future costs and improving business efciency, innovation and productivity (Nidu-
molu et al., 2014).
Not only collaborations, but also individual practices promote strategic position through reputation. Negative
publicity and consequent punishment from stakeholders for unethical, unsustainable behaviour (Trudel and
Cotte, 2009; Nations Environment Programme, 2013) can limit long-term performance. Hence, sustainability is
a strategic tool that drives positioning, which strengthens differentiation and competitive advantage (Kiernan,
2001; Hunt, 2003; Porter and Kramer, 2006; Trudel and Cotte, 2009; Schirone and Torkan, 2012), because as
an intangible asset, sustainability is hard to imitate (Adams, Thornon and Sepehri, 2012 p. 3). Subsequently,
sustainability can benet companies, because those who embrace it can exploit the potential of marketing in the
name of sustainable development, and thus attract talent, investors, and customers (Kiernan, 2001; Gore
and Blood, 2007; Schirone and Torkan, 2012; Clark, Feiner and Viehs, 2014; United Nations Environment
Programme, 2013). This can promote long-term value maximisation, through lower cost of capital, a pool of
talented workforce, and the impact on share prices (Clark, Feiner and Viehs, 2014, p. 7). However, the reputa-
tion argument focuses only on the external audience and rarely on the strategic benet (Porter and Kramer,
2006, p. 83). Unless sustainability is rooted in strategies and operations specic to the business, reputation
cannot benet companies in the long-term, as this limits the extent to which businesses can differentiate them-
selves. Even only partial sustainability, for example with one product or service, can yield similar benets as full
embracement (Trudel and Cotte, 2009), though such a strategy is not long-term, since it does not promote the
company's innovation and competitiveness. Hence, sustainability should not be seen as a mean to mitigate im-
mediate consequences, but to prevent them in the long-term; this why it should be rooted in companies' cores,
which implies a sea change in strategy, not only adjustments (Porter and Kramer, 2006).
There are various indicators where companies' reputations are reected, such as the Dow Jones Sus-
tainability Index (Adams, Thornon and Sepehri, 2012 p. 11). Analysis reveals that sustainability does
not have a signicant impact on share price in the short run, but there is a potential long-term posi-
tive correlation. This is supported by the new report From Stockholders to Stakeholders (Clark, Fein-
er and Viehs, 2014), which shows a positive correlation between sustainability and share prices.
Particularly, companies that scored poorly on the environmental element experienced low or a decline in
share prices. An example is the BP incident, when share prices declined by 50% and have underperformed
by 60% ever since; thus, the level of responsibility to the environment reects in the performance and affects
shareholders (Clark, Feiner and Viehs, 2014).
Consequently, one needs to regard sustainability as a long-term strategic tool, since short-termism limits
opportunities and companies' capabilities (Repenning and Henderson, 2010; Adams, Thornton and Sepehri,
2012; Clark, Feiner and Viehs, 2014, PRI reference). Peter Senge (1990) emphasised the importance of
individual learning for further development of an organisation. This does not imply learning as acquiring
information, but rather a shift of mind from the static mind-set (Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 121). As a result,
companies need a fundamental shift in their organisational structure or design (Meen and Keough, 1992, p.
66; Porter and Kramer, 2011).
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Such a shift requires transformational ethical leadership, leaders who dene the change, take on responsibility,
motivate and mobilise people (Rijal, 2010) through ethical principles and values. Managers also need to
promote openness and creativity in order to support such behaviour (McGill, Slocum and Lei 1992, p.
14). This represents a shift from adaptive learning, which is short-term oriented and where people only
react to stimuli in the environment (McGill, Slocum and Lei, 1992, p. 6), to long-term generative learning,
where experiments and change are supported and learning occurs independently of the environment, which
enhances innovation and efciency (McGill, Slocum and Lei 1992). However, companies and shareholders
are often risk averse (Durodié, 2004) and reserved towards change, since managers often have incomplete
information about the costs and benets (Porter and van der Linde,
1995, p. 127) and pressure on executives from nancial markets focuses on short- term results (Clark, Feiner
and Viehs, 2014, p. 9). Particularly the costs of implementing sustainability arouse scepticism. But these costs
can be as much as half of what analysts estimate, as in the case of compliance with sulphur dioxide emissions
(Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 129). Companies can use the cost-benet analysis to justify sustainability
and design their own metrics.
By pursuing sustainable development, companies can also make use of their power, which is often greater
than that of governments, to deal with social, economical, and environmental issues (Gore and Blood, 2007;
Fisher and Lovell, 2009, p. 301; Nidumolu et al., 2014). Companies are not often motivated to pursue
sustainability unless there is an outside competitive pressure, or regulation forces them (Porter and van der
Linde, 1995, p. 125). Additionally, a static mind-set pushes companies to think that sustainability comes with
high costs. They do not consider the learning curve, long-term economic and competitive benets, which
makes them resistant towards compliance with regulations (Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 130). These
attitudes limit their competitiveness, as they restrain innovation (Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 128).
This emphasises the importance of the shift. However, not all regulations making companies comply with
sustainable practices generate benets. Regulations frequently discourage risk-taking and experiments, since
governments tend to be inexible in their enforcement (Porter and van der Linde, 1995, p. 129). Regulations
should be designed to give companies freedom to solve their specic problems and issues, and thus support
innovation. Companies should therefore use their power to help improve regulations in these ways (Porter
and van der Linde, 1995, p. 129).
To conclude, sustainable development is not only ethical, it also supports long-term business growth. It
has been shown that moving from the ethical policy to principle does not alter support for sustainable
development. Utilitarianism supports thinking about future generations, seeking to ensure they are not left
with less productive means. Justice as fairness allows future generations to have fair opportunities, as one
has now. Moreover, sustainable development allows economic waste to be minimised, triggers innovation,
and leads to better operational performance, which is essential for long-term competitive advantage.
Thus, increased efciency and ethical behaviour improves reputation, which, as one of the most recent
studies has shown (Clark, Feiner and Viehs, 2014), has a positive impact on share prices. However, to avail
themselves of those benets, companies need to shift their static mind-sets and move from short- termism
to long-termism. They need to think about resources that can be used to sustain their business. The shift
needs to take place in the businesses' cores in order to exploit the long-term strategic potential (Porter
and Kramer, 2011). Hence, meeting social and environmental needs enables companies to improve their
performance and maximise long-term value creation for shareholders.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Scholars and practitioners have identified transformational leadership and organizational culture as important factors that influence the development of learning organization. Yet, few studies have empirically examined the impact of transformational leadership and organizational culture on learning organization. This study proposes hypotheses to understand the impact of transformational leadership and organizational culture on the development of learning organization. Data was collected from the pharmaceutical sector and a comparison was drawn between India and Nepal. Results indicate transformational leadership and organizational culture have a positive influence in the development of learning organization. The implication of the findings and possible directions for future research are discussed.
Like most holy grails, sustainability as a firm's most dependable route to financial high performance has seemed a goal always beyond reach. The problem is simple. Businesses are rarely obliged to pay for the full toll their operations take on the world. Because many of these impacts have been hard to gauge with any precision-or to assign to individual businesses with fairness-their costs have remained external to businesses' accounting. That means it's generally cheaper for consumers to buy a product that has a worse impact on the environment than the equivalent product that does less harm. But what if we could get to the point where the lowest-priced T-shirt was also the one doing the least harm to the planet and society? Three trends, each gathering force on its own, are now converging to make that goal a reality: (1) The values of many vital natural resources traditionally considered priceless are being quantified so that they can be factored into economic equations and individual firm's accounting. (2) Socially responsible investing has matured beyond negative screening to become a value-seeking discipline generating positive impetus for change. (3) Industries are converging on standard indices for rating products' sustainability and seeking improvements throughout their value chains. Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard and Rick Ridgeway team up with sustainability consultant Jib Ellison to explain those trends and how their convergence is driving a new era in sustainability. According to the authors, progress in each area spurs progress in the others, to the extent that the long-sought alignment of a firm's prosperity with the best interests of the planet seems not only possible but inevitable.
The concept of shared value—which focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress—has the power to unleash the next wave of global growth. An increasing number of companies known for their hard-nosed approach to business—such as Google, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Unilever, and Wal-Mart—have begun to embark on important shared value initiatives. But our understanding of the potential of shared value is just beginning. There are three key ways that companies can create shared value opportunities: By reconceiving products and markets • By redefining productivity in the value chain • By enabling local cluster development • Every firm should look at decisions and opportunities through the lens of shared value. This will lead to new approaches that generate greater innovation and growth for companies—and also greater benefits for society. The capitalist system is under siege. In recent years business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community. Even worse, the more business has begun to embrace corporate responsibility, the more it has been blamed for society's failures. The legitimacy of business has fallen to levels not seen in recent history. This diminished trust in business leads political leaders to set policies that undermine competitiveness and sap economic growth. Business is caught in a vicious circle. A big part of the problem lies with companies themselves, which remain trapped in an outdated approach to value creation that has emerged over the past few decades. They continue to view value creation narrowly, optimizing short-term financial performance in a bubble while missing the most important customer needs and ignoring the broader influences that determine their longer-term success. How else could companies overlook the well-being of their customers, the depletion of natural resources vital to their businesses, the viability of key suppliers, or the economic distress of the communities in which they produce and sell? How else could companies think that simply shifting activities to locations with ever lower wages was a sustainable "solution" to competitive challenges? Government and civil society have often exacerbated the problem by attempting to address social weaknesses at the expense of business. The presumed trade-offs between economic efficiency and social progress have been institutionalized in decades of policy choices.
In this enhanced meta-study we categorize more than 190 different sources. Within it, we find a remarkable correlation between diligent sustainability business practices and economic performance. The first part of the report explores this thesis from a strategic management perspective, with remarkable results: 88% of reviewed sources find that companies with robust sustainability practices demonstrate better operational performance, which ultimately translates into cashflows. The second part of the report builds on this, where 80% of the reviewed studies demonstrate that prudent sustainability practices have a positive influence on investment performance. This report ultimately demonstrates that responsibility and profitability are not incompatible, but in fact wholly complementary. When investors and asset owners replace the question “how much return?” with “how much sustainable return?”, then they have evolved from a stockholder to a stakeholder.