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Incorporating the Sustainability Concept in the Major Business Excellence Models

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The concept of sustainability has gained importance over the last years and organizations worldwide are trying to adapt their strategies and their economic, environmental, and social goals in order to achieve what is called corporate sustainability. Despite its importance to organizations, there is no universally accepted approach for implementing and measuring corporate sustainability. Business Excellence Models (BEMs) are widely used all over the world as a means of achieving and sustaining outstanding levels of organizational performance by improving the quality and management of their operations, and have been regarded to promote sustainable development. However, they have often been criticized for focusing more on business and financial results, questioning the extent to which they can adequately promote corporate sustainability. The aim of this paper is to explore the adequacy of the latest versions of three major BEMs to address corporate sustainability, by analyzing their criteria, their core values, and the overall approach of these models. Although the latest versions of these BEMs have been evolved to take into account the growing importance of corporate sustainability, the extent to which this is achieved varies among them, and cannot yet be considered as standardized models for its implementation and measurement. BEMs should provide an extensive list of sustainability indicators, such as the ones described in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, if they are to be regarded as frameworks that adequately address corporate sustainability.
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Citation: Politis, Y.; Grigoroudis, E.
Incorporating the Sustainability
Concept in the Major Business
Excellence Models. Sustainability
2022,14, 8175. https://doi.org/
10.3390/su14138175
Academic Editor: David K. Ding
Received: 25 March 2022
Accepted: 21 June 2022
Published: 4 July 2022
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sustainability
Article
Incorporating the Sustainability Concept in the Major Business
Excellence Models
Yannis Politis 1,* and Evangelos Grigoroudis 2
1School of Social Sciences, Hellenic Open University, 18 Parodos Aristotelous, 26335 Patra, Greece
2School of Production Engineering and Management, Technical University of Crete, University Campus,
Kounoupidiana, 73100 Chania, Greece; egrigoroudis@tuc.gr
*Correspondence: politis@ergasya.tuc.gr
Abstract:
The concept of sustainability has gained importance over the last years and organizations
worldwide are trying to adapt their strategies and their economic, environmental, and social goals
in order to achieve what is called corporate sustainability. Despite its importance to organizations,
there is no universally accepted approach for implementing and measuring corporate sustainability.
Business Excellence Models (BEMs) are widely used all over the world as a means of achieving and
sustaining outstanding levels of organizational performance by improving the quality and manage-
ment of their operations, and have been regarded to promote sustainable development. However,
they have often been criticized for focusing more on business and financial results, questioning the
extent to which they can adequately promote corporate sustainability. The aim of this paper is to
explore the adequacy of the latest versions of three major BEMs to address corporate sustainability,
by analyzing their criteria, their core values, and the overall approach of these models. Although
the latest versions of these BEMs have been evolved to take into account the growing importance
of corporate sustainability, the extent to which this is achieved varies among them, and cannot
yet be considered as standardized models for its implementation and measurement. BEMs should
provide an extensive list of sustainability indicators, such as the ones described in the Global Re-
porting Initiative (GRI) standards, if they are to be regarded as frameworks that adequately address
corporate sustainability.
Keywords:
triple bottom line approach; corporate sustainability; business excellence models; EFQM
model; MBNQA; Deming Prize; Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals
1. Introduction
The concept of sustainability has become increasingly important to society in recent
years [
1
], and organizations all over the world incorporate strategies into their everyday
activities to achieve sustainable development [
2
]. Organizations nowadays not only fo-
cus on financial results but they also try to manage the impact of their activities on the
environment and the society on equal terms. The concept of sustainable development has
recently been enriched by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [
3
] established
after the United Nations conference in New York in September 2015 for adopting the 2030
Agenda on Sustainable Development (Figure 1). Corporations all over the world need
to align their strategies and operations with these universal goals and take actions that
advance sustainability.
Despite the growing importance given to the implementation of business strategies
aiming to achieve corporate sustainability, a universally accepted or standardized method
to implement and measure corporate sustainability does not exist [
2
] and the frameworks
proposed in the literature to determine the level of corporate sustainability suffer from the
lack of generally accepted principles in selecting sustainability indicators [
4
]. In this context,
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14138175 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 2 of 20
several standards can guide business organizations to align their management subsystems
towards sustainable development. For example, ISO 26000:2010 provides guidelines for
social responsibility [
5
]. On the other hand, other frameworks, such as the Global Reporting
Initiative (GRI), can also help organizations, however, they only provide a starting point
for addressing the complex issues of corporate sustainability. Given the absence or the
narrow focus of existing standards, the literature emphasizes the need for a more structured
approach to integrate sustainability into their core business processes [6].
Figure 1. Sustainable Development Goals [3].
In an effort to apply sustainable practices in a systematic way, Business Excellence
Models (BEMs) have been discussed by a number of scholars as a means of sustain-
able development (see for example [
7
10
]). It should be noted that the primary focus
of BEMs is the improvement of quality and operations management, however, they have re-
cently broadened their focus, accommodating several social and environmental issues [
11
].
Asif et al.
[
11
] and Jankalováand Jankal [
6
] provide a number of reasons why the use of
BEMs as a tool for assessing and improving sustainability improvement is considered
appropriate, including their widespread use in achieving and sustaining outstanding levels
of organizational performance and the systematic approach they use to meet the demands
of different stakeholders. As the requirements of these stakeholders have changed in
recent years, BEMs are constantly being revised to be more suitable for evaluating and
implementing activities that improve corporate sustainability [12].
Few studies have investigated how BEMs contribute to corporate sustainability
(e.g., [
11
,
12
]) and how BEMs relate to existing sustainability initiatives such as the Global
Reporting Initiative (GRI). While many of them support that the best approach to assess
sustainability is through the implementation of BEMs (e.g., [
12
,
13
]), the findings of these
studies are often contradictory as to the extent to which BEMs promote corporate sustain-
ability. Since most of these studies are related to previous versions of BEMs, it would be
interesting to explore how the evolution of these BEMs also took into account the growing
importance of corporate sustainability and how the latest versions of BEMs can be used to
support the implementation of sustainability in organizations. Therefore, the aim of this
paper is to explore the adequacy of the latest versions of three major BEMs to address cor-
porate sustainability, by analyzing their criteria, their core values, and the overall approach
of these models. Suggestions as to how these models can better contribute to corporate
sustainability are also provided.
This paper is organized in 6 sections. Section 2analyses the concept of sustainability
presenting the most known frameworks used to assess the level of corporate sustainability
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 3 of 20
and provides a literature review of studies that have examined the linkage between the
concept of sustainability and previous versions of BEMs. Section 3describes the method-
ological approach and presents the latest versions of the three major BEMs (i.e., the EFQM
model, the MBNQA, and the Deming Prize). The extent to which sustainability issues are
embedded into the core values and/or criteria frameworks of the BEMs is analyzed in
Section 4. Finally, Section 5discusses the main findings, while Section 6summarizes the
concluding remarks and provides directions for further research.
2. Theoretical Background
This section discusses the definition of corporate sustainability and presents the frame-
works used to determine the level of corporate sustainability. The dimensions of corporate
sustainability are discussed and examples of sustainability indicators are provided. Ex-
tensive literature review, including research publications, research studies and documents
concerning previous attempts to investigate how BEMs contribute to corporate sustainabil-
ity is also conducted in order to support the findings of this study.
2.1. Sustainability
There is no generally accepted definition for corporate sustainability and there is no
clarity on what it means to different business scholars [
2
,
4
]. In general, sustainability was
defined by the Brundtland Commission as “the assurance that human needs are satisfied
today without harming the ability to fulfil the needs of a future generation” [
14
]. In a
similar vein, corporate sustainability can be defined as “the ability of firms to address the
needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their needs” [15].
The notion of business sustainability is sometimes referred to as a Triple Bottom Line (TBL),
which includes the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and e
nvironmental [16]
.
Through public health, information, and education, the social pillar symbolizes social
capital. The earnings of capital, which comprises physical, financial, and human capital, are
referred to as the economic pillar. The natural capital, as well as renewable, exchangeable
natural resources, are represented by the environmental pillar [
1
]. As a result, in order for
businesses to achieve corporate sustainability, they must also attain [17]:
1.
A cash flow viability to finance day-to-day operations and provide acceptable returns
to shareholders;
2.
A raw material consumption rate that is lower than the rate of natural
resource production
;
3. A good impact on society and its stakeholders.
According to Nikolaou et al. [
4
], these three pillars of sustainability appear in most
definitions of corporate sustainability. After reviewing the literature, they provided a defi-
nition of the term and suggested that “sustainable firms invest effectively and responsibly
their financial capital and simultaneously achieve certain environmental and social goals
which assure the protection of the natural environment and social justice” [4].
In an attempt to operationalize the implementation of the concept of sustainable
development for businesses, the Circular Economy (CE) concept has received increasing
attention worldwide and has become an important field to both scholars and practitioners
with a large increase in the number of articles and journals covering the topic during the
last years (e.g., [
18
20
]). Although there is no generally accepted definition for the concept
of Circular Economy, Kirchherr et al. [19] describe it as “an economic system that is based
on business models which replace the ‘end-of-life’ concept with reducing, alternatively
reusing, recycling and recovering materials in production/distribution and consumption
processes with the aim to accomplish sustainable development, which implies creating
environmental quality, economic prosperity and social equity, to the benefit of current
and future generations”. Similarly, Geissdoerfer et al. [
18
] define CE as “a regenerative
system in which resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimized by
slowing, closing, and narrowing material and energy loops. This can be achieved through
long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recy-
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 4 of 20
cling”. Circular Economy is seen as a business model that can lead to more sustainable
development and a harmonious society [21] contributing to all the three pillars of sustain-
able development. According to Korhonen et al. [
22
], the environmental goal of CE is to
minimize the production-consumption system’s virgin material and energy inputs, as well
as waste and emissions outputs, through the use of material cycles and renewables-based
energy cascades. CE’s economic goal is to lower the costs of raw materials, energy, waste
management, and emissions control in the economic production-consumption system, as
well as to reduce the risks of (environmental) legislation/taxation and public perception, as
well as to develop new product designs and market opportunities for businesses. The shar-
ing economy, increased employment, participatory democratic decision-making, and more
efficient use of existing physical material capacity through a cooperative and community
user (user groups using the value, service, and function) culture, rather than a consumer
(individuals consuming physical products) culture, are the social objectives of CE [22].
Despite the popularity of the CE concept, it seems that is still just a collection of
vague and separate ideas from several fields [
22
] and is far from being considered an
implementable model for sustainable development [19].
On the other hand, a range of frameworks have been proposed to determine the
level of corporate sustainability [
4
,
23
,
24
]. The most known rating frameworks include the
Kinder, Lydenberg and Domini (KLD) indices, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and
the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). KLD provides a rating system that evaluates
the sustainability performance of companies using the following evaluation dimensions:
corporate governance, product quality and safety, employee relations, diversity, human
rights, community relations, and environment. The KLD index is based on a TBL approach
that may be used to assess the linkages between social and financial performance [
2
]. On
the other hand, the DJSI is a family of sustainability indices used to measure corporate
sustainability performance covering long-term economic, environmental, and social aspects.
The DJSI focuses on stock performance and aims to provide a benchmark for sustainable
investments. Different weighting schemes are used according to the examined industries.
Criticism, however, emphasizes the data collection is heavily based on self-reported data.
The GRI Sustainability Reporting Initiative is the most frequently used framework
for reporting on economic, environmental, social, and governance performance [
6
,
12
].
GRI is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help businesses create standardized
sustainability reports and to make sustainability reporting commonplace. Economic (e.g.,
economic performance, market presence, indirect economic impacts, etc.), environmental
(e.g., materials, energy, water and effluents, biodiversity, emissions, waste, etc.) and
social (e.g., employment, labor/management relations, occupational health and safety,
training and education, etc.) issues are all covered in great detail by the GRI. The GRI is a
reporting framework that implements a set of sustainability reporting standards to produce
a broad range of sustainability indicators. However, due to the aforementioned lack of a
standard to implement and assess sustainability, it may complement organizations support
their sustainability programs and achieve their goals of sustainability development more
successfully [2527].
2.2. International Business Excellence Models and Sustainability
There are few studies that have examined the linkage between BEMs and the concept
of sustainability and the extent to which BEMs can assist in the advancement of corporate
sustainability. Among the most known BEMs, most of the studies concern the examination
of previous versions of the EFQM model, fewer of the MBNQA and much fewer of the
Deming Award.
The Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers founded the Deming Prize in 1951
to acknowledge Dr. Edwards Deming’s contribution to Japanese business and to support
the further development of quality control in Japan [
28
]. It is the first quality award in a
national/international level used for the promotion of Total Quality Management (TQM).
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 5 of 20
Recipients are business organizations that are recognized for their excellence in applying
the TQM principles. The categories of the Deming Prize are [29]:
The Deming Prize for Individuals: Given to those who have made outstanding contri-
butions to the study of TQM or those who have made outstanding contributions in
the dissemination of TQM;
The Deming Distinguished Service Award for Dissemination and Promotion (Over-
seas): Given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the dissemi-
nation and promotion of TQM;
The Deming Prize: Given annually to organizations that have implemented TQM
suitable for their management philosophy, scope/type/scale of business, and manage-
ment environment;
The Deming Grand Prize: Given annually to organizations that had maintained and
further enhanced the level of TQM for more than three years after the winning of the
Deming Prize or the Deming Grand Prize.
The US government established the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MB-
NQA) in 1987 as a declaration of national will to offer quality leadership and increase
the competitiveness of US businesses. The National Institute of Standards and Technol-
ogy (NIST) presently administers it, with the American Society of Quality aiding with
the application evaluation process, award document creation, and other administrative
functions [
30
]. The award is given to companies and organizations that excel in quality
management practice and performance on a yearly basis. Each year, up to 18 awards are
granted in six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care,
and nonprofit [31].
The EFQM was created in 1988 by 14 of the most prominent Western European
enterprises, when many of Europe’s largest corporations understood that the only way to
stay in business was to pay significantly more attention to quality [
32
]. A quality award
procedure was developed in 1991 with the help of the European Organization for Quality
and the European Commission to recognize accomplishment as a part of the EFQM’s
strategy [
33
]. The EFQM model has been acknowledged as a worldwide structure that
helps firms manage change and enhance organizational performance since its launch in
1991 [34].
Already from the previous versions of the BEMs, studies have suggested that BEMs
can support corporate sustainability at some point. For example, Al-Tabbaa, et al. [
35
]
studied how the adoption of the EFQM model can help not-for-profit organizations to
improve their sustainability. In general, previous studies show that higher commitment
to the EFQM model is associated with higher involvement in sustainability by business
organizations [
36
]. This linkage is stronger regarding corporate social sustainability [
37
,
38
].
On the other hand, Jankalováand Jankal [
12
] note that corporate social responsibility is
a critical element of the MBNQA model since 1988. However, the focus has been revised
over the years. For example, public responsibility was initially related to external commu-
nication in the 1988 set of criteria (i.e., how information regarding corporate support of
quality assurance or improvement activities were communicated outside the organization).
This, however, has been expanded over the years, covering different aspects of quality
leadership to the external community. In this framework, businesses need now explain to
their external communications how their quality policies and operations combine public
health, safety, environmental protection, and ethical business practices. This core princi-
ple was significantly revised in 2000, with the organization’s leadership emphasizing the
organization’s responsibility to the public and emphasizing the need of practicing good
citizenship. These obligations referred to the organization’s basic expectations in terms of
corporate ethics and public health, safety, and the environment. Although the wording
remained mostly intact, the fundamental principle was renamed “Social Responsibility” in
2003. Three of the 11 basic values and ideas in the most recent editions of the MBNQA are
very strongly linked to corporate social responsibility principles [
12
]. Taking into account
that BEMs are periodically revised in order to keep up with current trends and business
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 6 of 20
needs, it can be assumed that the latest versions of the three most known international
BEMs can also be used as models for promoting sustainable development, as stated in
Proposition 1.
Proposition 1.
The current versions of the three most known BEMs can be used as tools that
promote corporate sustainability.
In contrast, Asif et al. [
11
] found that while TBL considerations were addressed to some
extent in the studied BEMs, both 2010 versions of the EFQM and the MBNQA models do
not provide comprehensive frameworks for sustainability, nor do they provide a systematic
approach to implementing and assessing corporate sustainability. In general, the MBNQA
addressed all three TBL topics. However, the amount to which issues were handled varied
greatly, with the emphasis mostly on improving economic performance. Environmental
factors were acknowledged as part of the “social responsibility” core value, but they were
not a necessity. Economic and environmental problems were also discussed implicitly or
openly throughout the EFQM. They stated that the EFQM model went beyond the MBNQA
in the social and environmental domains, despite the fact that environmental factors were
given a low profile in the EFQM framework and were not expressly examined in their own
category. It did not, however, give any instructions for establishing and applying sustain-
ability indicators, as did the MBNQA. The authors suggested that future revisions of both
models include an explicit and increased focus on social and environmental considerations
in order to more effectively address the multiple bottom-line issues, as well as a number of
improvement suggestions for each model, including the need to incorporate sustainability
indicators, such as those provided in the GRI framework, into the BEMs.
The 2013 version of the EFQM model, according to Aryanasl et al. [
39
], was only
partially committed to sustainability and needed to be updated in order for a company to
be sustainable after using the model. Most EFQM criteria do not promote sustainability,
according to Palentováand Laichová[
40
], and the approach is more market orientated.
Adamek [
41
] stated that there is no clear link between the EFQM model and corporate
sustainability, and that the model promotes the environmental rather than the social or
economic pillars of sustainability. In this context, it would be interesting to investigate
whether the current versions of the major BEMs still address corporate sustainability in
different ways and if they can adequately promote corporate sustainability, as stated in
Propositions 2 and 3.
Proposition 2.
The current versions of the major BEMs address corporate sustainability to
different extent.
Proposition 3.
The current structure of the major BEMs should be modified in order to be considered
corporate sustainability frameworks.
3. Materials and Methods
The core values, criteria frameworks, and structure of the three BEMs were examined
in order to investigate the above-mentioned claims. A qualitative examination of the
BEMs’ frameworks was carried out in order to find possible connections between them and
corporate sustainability dimensions. In order to highlight the way in which each one of the
models contributes to corporate sustainability, the points where sustainability is referred or
implied in core values, criteria frameworks and/or structure of the BEMs, as considered
in any of the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental), were
identified. The extent to which each BEM addresses corporate sustainability, as described
by the three pillars of corporate sustainability, was determined, potentially leading to model
improvements. To support the research findings, a detailed examination of the limited
literature was conducted, which included an analysis of the most recent BEM versions.
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 7 of 20
All three BEMs have been recently revised in an attempt to catch up with the current
trends of good governance. The EFQM model was revised in 2019 leading to the EFQM
2020 model. The model recognizes the role that organizations can play in supporting the
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and incorporates them, as well as a
set of European values that support business ethics, into its construction [
34
,
42
]. The model
comprises 7 criteria grouped in three dimensions [
42
,
43
] and 23 sub-criteria (see Figure 2
and Table 1):
The Direction that responds to the Why. Excellent companies, according to the model,
determine their course in terms of purpose, stakeholder identification, strategy and
governance, and performance systems.
The Execution that responds to the How. The model’s “execution” section converts
specified directives into outcomes through organizational changes that include stake-
holder involvement, long-term value creation for stakeholders, and performance
and transformation.
The Results that solve the question of What. The “results” section assesses how well
businesses are meeting key stakeholder expectations and achieving strategic and
operational performance goals.
Figure 2.
The EFQM 2020 model. Reprinted with permission from [
33
].
©
EFQM 2021. The EFQM
Model is a registered trademark of EFQM.
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 8 of 20
Table 1.
The criteria of the EFQM model. Reprinted with permission from [
33
].
©
EFQM 2021. The
EFQM Model is a registered trademark of EFQM.
Criteria and Sub-Criteria Weight
Purpose, Vision & Strategy 100 points
1.1 Define Purpose & Vision 20 points
1.2 Identify & Understand Stakeholders Needs 20 points
1.3 Understand the Ecosystem, Own Capabilities & Major Challenges 20 points
1.4 Develop Strategy 20 points
1.5 Design & Implement a Governance & Performance Management System 20 points
Organisational Culture & Leadership 100 points
2.1 Steer the Organisation’s Culture and Nurture Values 25 points
2.2 Create the Conditions for Realising Change 25 points
2.3 Enable Creativity & Innovation 25 points
2.4 Unite Behind & Engage in Purpose, Vision & Strategy 25 points
Engaging Stakeholders 100 points 1
3.1 Customers: Build Sustainable Relationships 20 points
3.2 People: Attract, Engage, Develop & Retain 20 points
3.3 Business & Governing Stakeholders: Secure & Sustain Ongoing Support 20 points
3.4 Society: Contribute to Development, Well-Being & Prosperity 20 points
3.5 Partners & Suppliers: Build Relationships & Ensure Support for Creating
Sustainable Value 20 points
Creating Sustainable Value 200 points
4.1 Design the Value & How it is Created 50 points
4.2 Communicate & Sell the Value 50 points
4.3 Deliver the Value 50 points
4.4 Define & Implement the Overall Experience 50 points
Driving Performance & Transformation 100 points
5.1 Driver Performance & Manage Risk 20 points
5.2 Transform the Organisation for the Future 20 points
5.3 Drive Innovation & utilise Technology 20 points
5.4 Leverage Data, Information & Knowledge 20 points
5.5 Manage Assets & Resources 20 points
Stakeholder Perceptions 100 points 1
6.1 Customer Perception Results 20 points
6.2 People Perception Results 20 points
6.3 Business & Governing Stakeholders Perception Results 20 points
6.4 Society Perception Results 20 points
6.5 Partners & Suppliers Perception Results 20 points
Strategic & Operational Performance 200 points
1
The points of this criterion can be distributed differently according to the importance of each group of stakehold-
ers for different organizations.
The first five criteria of the model describe and evaluate what the organization is doing
and how it is doing it while the remaining two criteria evaluate the obtained results [
44
].
The “enablers” criteria (20 percent direction and 40 percent execution) have a 60 percent
distribution, whereas the “results” criteria have a 40 percent distribution. The EFQM
methodology does not directly supply fundamental values. The model may, however, infer
some key principles such as sustainability, stakeholder involvement, systems viewpoint,
and growing organizational competence. As the model demands developing the value,
governance system, and performance management system to match with the principles of
sustainable development, “design thinking” is a distinctive implicit core value [45].
The latest version of the MBNQA, released in 2021, consists of seven assessment cate-
gories, six of which are “systematic processes” and the seventh is performance results [
45
]
(see Figure 3). Systematic processes include “leadership”, “strategy”, “customer focus”,
“measurement, analysis, and knowledge management”, “workforce focus” and “operations
focus” [
46
,
47
]. The implementation of these systematic processes leads to “performance
results”. Each one of the seven categories consists of several items that enumerate the
requirements proposed to constitute effective practice. The number of items has been
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 9 of 20
consolidated over the years, falling from 42 in the original 1988 version of the criteria to 17
in 2021 [
48
]. A scoring system assigns 1000 points to the seven categories, with 55% points
allocated to processes and 45% to results.
The MBNQA builds upon 11 core values, which are [
49
,
50
]: 1. Systems perspective, 2.
Visionary leadership, 3. Customer-focused excellence, 4. Valuing people, 5. Agility and
resilience, 6. Organizational learning, 7. Focus on success and innovation, 8. Management
by fact, 9. Societal contributions, 10. Ethics and transparency, 11. Delivering value and
results. Table 2presents the dimensions included in the criteria of the Baldrige performance
excellence framework.
Table 2.
The criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework. Reprinted with permission
from [50]. Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. 2021.
Criteria Sub-Criteria
Organizational Profile P.1 Organizational Description
P.2 Organizational Situation
1 Leadership 1.1 Senior Leadership
1.2 Governance and Societal Contributions
2 Strategy 2.1 Strategy Development
2.2 Strategy Implementation
3 Customers 3.1 Customer Expectations
3.2 Customer Engagement
4 Measurement, Analysis, and
Knowledge Management
4.1 Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement of
Organizational Performance
4.2 Information and Knowledge Management
5 Workforce 5.1 Workforce Environment
5.2 Workforce Engagement
6 Operations 6.1 Work Processes
6.2 Operational Effectiveness
7 Results
7.1 Product and Process Results
7.2 Customer Results
7.3 Workforce Results
7.4 Leadership and Governance Results
7.5 Financial, Market, and Strategy Results
Figure 3.
The MBNQA 2021–2022. Reprinted with permission from [
50
]. Baldrige Performance
Excellence Program. 2021.
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 10 of 20
The latest version of the Deming Prize, released in 2019, has a three-pronged approach.
The establishment of customer-driven business objectives and strategies with a social
responsibility perspective is the first main requirement. At the same time, the Deming
Prize requires organizations to effectively achieve specific objectives in the context of their
TQM implementation. Finally, business organizations, should acquires a capability for
future growth, as a result of the previous requirements [
45
]. Thus, the first category of
evaluation criteria consists of “Establishment of business objectives and strategies and top
management’s leadership”, the second is about “Suitable utilization and implementation of
TQM”, and the third is about “Effects of TQM” [29]. Each of the previous three categories
is assigned a score of 100 points, thus, the overall potential score has a total of 300 points.
The Deming Prize is quite demanding, giving that a minimum of 70 points in each category
is necessary for applicant organizations to qualify for the award. Table 3presents the
dimensions and the scoring points of the evaluation criteria.
Table 3. Evaluation items of the Deming Prize. Reprinted with permission from [51].
Evaluation Items Points Passing Points
A. Establishment of business objectives and strategies and top management’s leadership
I. Establishment of proactive customer-oriented business
objectives and strategies 100 70 or above
II. Role of top management and its fulfillment
B. Suitable utilization and implementation of TQM
III. Suitable utilization and implementation of TQM for the
realization of business objectives and strategies 100
70 or above
1. Organizational deployment of business objectives
and strategies (15)
2. Creation of new values based on understanding of
customer and social needs and innovation of technology
and business model
(15)
3. Management and improvement of quality of products
and services and/or work process (15)
4. Establishment and operation of cross-functional
management systems such as quality, quantity, delivery,
cost, safety, environment, etc. across the supply chain
(15)
5. Collection and analysis of information and accumulation
and utilization of knowledge (15)
6. Development and active utilization of human resource
and organizational capability (15)
7. Initiatives for social responsibility of the organization (10)
C. Effects of TQM
IV. Effects obtained regarding business objectives and
strategies through utilization and implementation of TQM 100 70 or above
V. Outstanding TQM activities and acquisition of
organizational capabilities
4. Results
Regarding the EFQM model, “Creating Sustainable Value” is a new criterion with
a weight of 20% and can be assumed that the concept of sustainability can be found to
a greater amount in the latest version of the model compared to the previous ones [
1
].
The EFQM 2020 model now includes a framework that connects the organization’s mis-
sion and strategy while also guaranteeing alignment with the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a world-
wide statement of stakeholder demands to assure simultaneous economic, social, and
environmental development [
52
] and to track progress toward Sustainable Development
(SD) [
53
]. Organizations need to understand the ecosystem in which they operate and
the consequences of their operations in achieving the SDGs. Key stakeholders should be
engaged in the deployment of organizations’ strategy drawing inspiration from the United
Nations SDGs and their perceptions of the degree to which the organization contributes
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 11 of 20
successfully to one or more of the United Nations SDGs should also be considered. Through
the SDGs organizations worldwide can operationalize and integrate sustainability and
address current and future stakeholder needs, contributing to an enduring economic, social,
and environmental development [42].
Furthermore, sustainable levels of performance, a sustainable future, and sustainable
value are further addressed in many of the EFQM model’s criteria (see Table 4). There is a
connection between an organization’s purpose and strategy, and how that connection is
leveraged to produce long-term value for important stakeholders and accomplish amazing
outcomes. At all levels of the company, leadership must be successful. Culture must
inspire individuals, encourage change, and add value [
42
]. All essential stakeholders, as
well as crucial economic, social, and environmental issues, must reach sustainable levels
of performance.
Table 4. Sustainability in the EFQM model criteria and sub-criteria.
Criteria/Sub-Criteria Content
1.1 Define Purpose & Vision
. . .
Identifies areas in which outstanding and
sustainable
levels of performance must be achieved to fulfil
the Vision.
1.2 Identify & Understand
Stakeholders Needs
The purpose sets the scene for it to create and deliver
sustained value for its stakeholders.
1.3 Understand the Ecosystem, Own
Capabilities & Major Challenges
. . .
Researches and understands the ecosystem, including
Megatrends, and the consequences on it of the UN’s
Sustainable Development Goals
. Assesses and evaluates
the data, information and knowledge gathered from
across its ecosystem to understand the major challenges
for today and in the future.
2.1 Steer the Organization’s Culture
and Nurture Values
Identifies, recognizes and promotes other role models
from within its ecosystem that are leading the way to a
more sustainable future for everyone
3. Engaging Stakeholders
Involves Key Stakeholders in deploying its Strategy and
Creating Sustainable Value and recognizes the
contributions they make. Works with its Key Stakeholders
to develop a common understanding and focus on how,
through co-development, it can contribute to, and draw
inspiration from, the UN’s Sustainable Development
Goals and Global Compact ambitions. Evaluates its
performance in relation to Key Stakeholders needs and
decides on the appropriate actions to be taken to help
secure its future, as perceived by these Key Stakeholders.
3.1 Customers: Build Sustainable
Relationships
Maintains a relationship with its customers during all
stages of creating Sustainable Value.
3.5 Partners & Suppliers: Build
Relationships & Ensure Support for
Creating Sustainable Value
Builds a trusting relationship with its Key Partners and
Suppliers to support the objective of Creating
Sustainable Value.
4. Creating Sustainable Value
The organization’s clearly defined Purpose, enriched by
the Strategy, defines for whom the organization should be
Creating Sustainable Value. In most cases, customers,
segmented appropriately, are the target group for
Creating Sustainable Value, although some
organizations might also focus on selected Key
Stakeholders within its Society or Business & Governing
Stakeholder segments.
4.3 Deliver the Value Delivers sustainable value . . . .
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 12 of 20
Table 4. Cont.
Criteria/Sub-Criteria Content
5. Driving Performance &
Transformation
The combination of Driving Performance &
Transformation confirms the necessity for the organization
to deliver for today while preparing for the future.
5.1 Driver Performance &
Manage Risk
Uses the performance management system to ensure a
coherent link between its Purpose, Strategy, Sustainable
Value creation objectives and results.
5.2 Transform the Organization for
the Future
Identifies the transformation and change needs,
considering its Purpose, Strategy, Sustainable Value
creation objectives and Results and scanning its
ecosystem to forecast the main challenges and
opportunities for the future.
5.4 Leverage Data, Information &
Knowledge
Converts data into information and knowledge . .. for
creating further sustainable value . .. . Makes use of the
knowledge held by key stakeholders to generate ideas and
innovations, including the potential for working together,
to develop products, services, and solutions that create
sustainable value.
5.5 Manage Assets & Resources Uses financial resources in a balanced and
sustainable way . . . .
6. Stakeholder Perceptions
In addition to the perceptions that a Key Stakeholder may
have of an organization based on personal experiences,
perceptions may also be shaped by the environmental and
social impact reputation of the organization. For instance,
the degree to which the organization is perceived by its
Key Stakeholders as contributing successfully to one or
more of the UN’s Nations Sustainable Development
Goals and Global Compact ambitions. The usage of
technology by the organization to help deliver
sustainable value . . .
7. Strategic & Operational
Performance
. .. Achievements in delivering its Purpose and creating
Sustainable Value . . .
The obvious focus on sustainability and the SDGs answers the concerns of academics
like Asif et al. [
11
], who argue that sustainability has not been included in the purview of
major excellence awards.
Although the MBNQA does not expressly address sustainability, the model’s basic
principles, criteria, and criterion recommendations integrate elements from the three pillars
of sustainability. One of the model’s basic principles, in particular, requires leaders to
emphasize contributions to the public, to consider societal well-being and benefit, and to
be role models for community well-being. Furthermore, in all stakeholder transactions and
interactions, firms should emphasize ethical behavior by all workforce members, and top
executives should be role models for ethical behavior. Organizations should choose and
assess outcomes that will assist them provide and balance value for their major stakeholders,
such as financial, environmental, and social performance results [49].
The “Governance and Societal Contributions” sub-criterion of the model, addresses
most of the issues concerning the social pillar of sustainability. According to the sub-
criterion (see Table 5), this is achieved through appropriate leadership, which values
diversity, promotes equity, provides a safe workplace for the workforce, supports commu-
nities, and ensures that everyone in the organization behaves legally and ethically. The
model’s criteria address environmental issues as well, by asking organizations to conserve
natural resources and consider the environmental impact of the organization’s work pro-
cesses. Finally, the model requires organizations to collect and analyze all results necessary
to sustaining an enterprise, including financial results, customer results, leadership and
governance results, and results concerning their environmental performance (e.g., carbon
footprint, energy consumption, emission levels, etc.).
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 13 of 20
Table 5. Sustainability in the criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.
Criteria/Sub-Criteria Content
1.1 Senior Leadership
This item asks about the key aspects of the senior leaders’
responsibilities, with the aim of creating an organization that
is successful now and in the future. Senior leaders play a
central role in setting values and directions . .. and focus on
organizational sustainability.
Role-model senior leaders model the valuing of diversity,
and promote equity (fair treatment) and inclusion
(intentional engagement) for all people associated with the
organization, creating a sense of belonging.
1.2 Governance and Societal
Contributions
This item asks how the organization ensures that everyone in
the organization behaves legally and ethically, how it
fulfills its societal contributions, and how it supports its
key communities. Role-model organizations look for
opportunities to excel in areas of legal and ethical behavior.
This item asks organizations to
anticipate public concerns
, to
conserve natural resources through the use of “green”
technologies, reduction of their carbon footprint, replacement
of hazardous chemicals with water-based chemicals, energy
conservation, use of cleaner energy sources, or recycling of
by-products or wastes, to consider their societal
contributions by seeking opportunities to contribute to the
well-being of environmental, social, and economic systems
and opportunities to support key communities.
5.1 Workforce Environment
Organizations benefit from a diverse workforce that reflects
the changing marketplace. Diversity encompasses personal
differences among workforce members in many domains,
such as race, religion, color, gender, national origin, disability,
sexual orientation, age and generation, education, and
perspectives.
Diversity of thinking
enhances innovation and
problem solving, and helps anticipate risks.
5.2 Workforce Engagement
An equitable (fair) and inclusive work environment
enhances workforce satisfaction and engagement, and
maximizes the benefits to organizational performance that are
gained from a diverse workforce.
6.1 Work Processes
This item asks organizations to consider factors in work
process design such as safety, long-term performance,
environmental impact, organization’s carbon footprint and
“green” manufacturing . . .
6.2 Operational Effectiveness
All organizations, regardless of size, are required to meet
minimum regulatory standards for workplace and
workforce safety.
7 Results This category provides a system’s focus that encompasses all
results necessary to sustaining an enterprise.
7.1 Product and Process Results
Measures and indicators of process effectiveness and
efficiency might include the following:
Work system performance that demonstrates improved
cost savings or higher productivity by using internal
and/or external resources
Reduced emission levels, carbon footprint, or energy
consumption
Waste-stream reductions, by-product use,
and recycling...
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 14 of 20
Table 5. Cont.
Criteria/Sub-Criteria Content
7.2 Customer Results
This item places an emphasis on customer-focused results that
go beyond satisfaction measurements, because customer
engagement and relationships are better indicators and
measures of future success in the marketplace and of
organizational sustainability.
7.4 Leadership and
Governance Results
This item asks organizations to provide results about
environmental, legal, and regulatory compliance issues;
results of oversight audits by government or funding
agencies; noteworthy achievements in these areas, as
appropriate; organizational contributions to societal
well-being and support for key communities.
7.5 Financial, Market, and
Strategy Results
This item asks about organizations’ key financial and market
results, which demonstrate their financial sustainability and
their marketplace achievements.
In terms of the Deming Prize, the most recent iteration of the model demands busi-
nesses to develop a set of proactive customer-oriented business objectives and plans that
take social responsibility into consideration (see Table 6). Top management’s job is to
improve the organization’s skills, human resource development, and corporate social re-
sponsibility while focusing on long-term success and social sustainability. The organization
must be aware of its role and responsibilities as a member of society and establish specific
indicators for measuring its performance in a number of social aspects, such as environmen-
tal preservation, regional contribution, fair operating practices, respect for human rights,
and so on, in order to effectively use and implement TQM and achieve business objectives
and strategies. Finally, evaluating the effects from the implementation of TQM, the model
stresses out that an important factor for the organization’s future sustainable growth is the
acquirement of the necessary organizational capabilities.
Table 6. Sustainability in the Deming Prize criteria.
Evaluation Items Content
I. Establishment of proactive
customer-oriented business
objectives and strategies
Under clear management belief, proactive customer-oriented
business objectives and strategies has been established
according to the management philosophy, industry, scale and
environment, taking into account social responsibility of
the organization.
II. Role of top management and
its fulfillment
Top management is exhibiting leadership in formulation of
proactive customer-oriented business objectives and strategies
and implementation of TQM. It has insight concerning
business objectives, strategies and environmental change and
understands the importance of enhancement of
organizational capabilities, human resource development
and corporate social responsibility.
III. Suitable utilization and
implementation of TQM for the
realization of business objectives
and strategies
6. Development and active
utilization of human resource
and organizational capability
Development of human resource and organizational
capabilities
is being carried out in a planned manner and it is
useful in realization of business objectives and strategies and
implementation of TQM, and activation of people and
organization that supports them.
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 15 of 20
Table 6. Cont.
Evaluation Items Content
7. Initiatives for social
responsibility of the
organization
The organization is aware of its role and responsibilities as
a member of the society and has established specific
indicators in this regard and is adopting initiatives
proactively (for instance, environmental preservation,
regional contribution, fair operating practices, respect for
human rights, information security, etc.) according to its
management philosophy, type of industry, business scale and
business environment.
V. Outstanding TQM activities
and acquisition of
organizational capabilities
The organization has obtained effects in the core areas for the
realization of business objectives and strategies based on
outstanding TQM activities regarding content and/or
application of TQM and has acquired organizational
capabilities necessary for its future sustainable growth.
5. Discussion
Comparing the last versions of the three BEMs, it is obvious that, although they cannot
be considered as sustainability frameworks, sustainability factors are integrated into all
models, at different levels, however.
Especially for the EFQM model, it has clearly shifted from a Quality Award to
Business Excellence to a Business model that aims for outstanding results and corpo-
rate s
ustainability [42]
. The model provides a method for organizations to measure their
progress towards embedding the United Nations SDGs and associated targets into their
way of working [
33
] and will undoubtedly contribute to achieving the SDGs [
54
]. The
EFQM model’s inferred value of sustainability is expressed in the three primary sections of
the criteria, namely direction, execution, and outcomes. The EFQM model emphasizes a
broader approach to sustainability in the direction section, which begins with an under-
standing of the ecosystem in which the firm operates, understanding their own capabilities
and major challenges, and then developing strategy, governance, and performance man-
agement systems in accordance. “Creating sustainable value” receives 200 out of 400 points
in the execution section. Similarly, “results of society perception” is a separate category in
the results. Overall, the EFQM model has a conspicuous focus on sustainability and social
responsibility and emphasizes the need to be addressed systematically, and can support an
organization on its way to sustainable development by implementing helpful activities [
55
].
However, there is an absence of a recommended shortlist of suitable indicators within the
description of results criteria 6 and 7 in the model [
42
], therefore of sustainability indicators
as well.
The MBNQA does not explicitly address the issue of sustainability, unlike the EFQM
paradigm. Many of its aspects, however, are mentioned in the model’s basic ideals and re-
quirements. As a function of leadership and as a result of leadership, societal responsibility
is considered. “Social well-being” and “community support” are examples of social contri-
bution as a leadership role. The “Governance and Societal Contributions” sub-criterion
expressly addresses societal contribution, sustainability, and social responsibility, although
they are also visible in other criteria. In comparison to the EFQM model, the MBNQA
presents examples of economic, environmental, and social indicators that are critical for a
company’s long-term success.
Compared to the other two models, the Deming Prize addresses sustainability in a
more general and less detailed way, while it remains a TQM model which supports that
corporate sustainability can be achieved with the proper adoption of TQM principles. The
model focuses mainly on social issues while environmental and economic issues are covered
to a lesser extent. Concerning social responsibility, it is discussed in three points within the
Deming Prize model. First, the model necessitates consideration of the organization’s social
responsibility while developing customer-related objectives and initiatives. Second, the
model expects senior management to gain social responsibility insights in their capacity as
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 16 of 20
top management. Finally, the model involves adopting “initiatives for organizational social
responsibility,” which is a separate category worth 10% of the weight in the utilization and
implementation category. As a result, the Deming Prize model includes a considerable
amount of social responsibility [45].
In summary, it can be concluded that the EFQM model has taken more important steps
towards becoming a framework to support corporate sustainability by integrating SDGs
and addressing sustainability in almost all its criteria. On the other hand, the Deming Prize
still focuses mainly on the implementation of the TQM principles and remains rather a
quality award model. However, none of the models can be used as a standardized method
for implementing and measuring corporate sustainability. Although many of its concepts
are addressed in one way or another, they are generally criticized for not providing an
extensive list of sustainability indicators. Business excellence models can take advantage of
their popularity and worldwide acceptance and extend their applicability by incorporating
sustainability indicators, such as the ones provided in the GRI framework. Sustainability
goals, such as the ones provided by The United Nations, should be set and aligned with
the organizations’ strategies and purposes and BEMs should facilitate and support the
achievement of these goals. Sustainability indicators, such as the ones provided by the GRI
framework, should be explicitly defined and analyzed in order to measure the performance
of the organizations and the extent to which they have achieved their sustainability goals.
Table 7presents an attempt of Tsalis et al. [
26
] to assess the achievement of the United
Nations SDGs through the implementation of the GRI standards and can be considered as
a good example of how appropriate indicators can be integrated into the BEMs as a means
to achieve corporate sustainability. According to Table 7, each one of the United Nations
SDGs can be assessed by a number of GRI indicators, which can be embedded in BEMs and
assist organizations to better monitor and analyze their performance against sustainability
goals and adjust their operations and strategies accordingly so as to be in line with the
requirements of SDGs.
Table 7.
Assessing the achievement of UN_SDGs through the GRI standards. Reprinted with
permission form [26].
UN_SDGs GRI Standards
UN_SDG_1 201-1, 201-3, 202-1, 202-2, 203-2, 413-2
UN_SDG_2 201-1, 203-1, 203-2, 206-1, 411-1, 413-2, 416-1, 416-2
UN_SDG_3 203-2, 305-1, 305-2, 305-3, 305-6, 305-7, 306-1, 306-2, 306-3, 306-4, 401-2,
403-2, 403-3
UN_SDG_4 205-2, 404-1, 404-2, 404-3, 410-1, 412-2
UN_SDG_5 201-1, 202-1, 203-1, 401-1, 401-2, 401-3, 404-1,404-3, 405-1, 405-2, 406-1,
414-1, 414-2
UN_SDG_6 303-1, 303-2, 303-3, 304-1, 304-2, 304-3, 304-4, 306-1, 306-2, 306-3, 306-5
UN_SDG_7 201-1, 203-1, 302-1, 302-2, 302-3, 302-4, 302-5
UN_SDG_8
201-1, 201-3, 202-1, 202-2, 203-2, 204-1, 301-1, 301-2, 301-3, 302-1, 302-2,
302-3, 302-4, 302-5, 303-3, 401-1, 401-2, 401-3,402-1, 403-1, 403-2, 403-3,
403-4, 404-1,404-2, 404-3, 405-1, 405-2, 406-1, 407-1, 408-1, 409-1, 414-1, 414-2
UN_SDG_9 201-1, 203-1
UN_SDG_10 201-1, 202-1, 203-1, 203-2, 204-1, 205-1, 205-3, 401-1, 404-1, 404-3, 405-2,
406-1, 412-3
UN_SDG_11 203-1, 413-1, 413-2
UN_SDG_12
204-1, 301-1, 301-2, 301-3, 302-1, 302-2, 302-3, 302-4, 302-5, 303-3, 305-1,
305-2, 305-3, 305-4, 305-6, 305-7, 306-1, 306-2, 306-3, 306-4, 308-1,
308-2, 417-1
UN_SDG_13 201-2, 302-1, 302-2, 302-3, 302-4, 302-5, 305-1, 305-2, 305-3, 305-4, 305-5,
305-6, 305-7
UN_SDG_14 304-1, 304-2, 304-3, 304-4, 305-1, 305-2, 305-3, 305-4, 305-5, 305-7, 306-1,
306-3, 306-5
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 17 of 20
Table 7. Cont.
UN_SDGs GRI Standards
UN_SDG_15 303-1, 303-2, 304-1, 304-2, 304-3, 304-4, 305-1, 305-2, 305-3, 305-4, 305-5,
305-7, 306-1, 306-2, 306-3, 306-5
UN_SDG_16 205-1, 205-2, 205-3, 206-1, 307-1, 406-1, 408-1, 410-1, 411-1, 412-1, 412-2,
412-3, 414-1, 414-2, 415-1, 416-2, 417-1, 417-2, 417-3, 418-1, 419-1
UN_SDG_17 201-1, 203-1, 203-2, 413-1, 413-2
Taking into account the analysis of the previous sections and the limitations and
different ways in which the analyzed BEMs deal with corporate sustainability, a number of
dimensions, such as those presented in Figure 4, are proposed, in order to enhance the ability
of future versions of BEMs to accommodate the concept of sustainability
more systematically
.
Figure 4. Dimensions of sustainability included in BEMs. Source: Authors’ elaboration.
6. Conclusions
Future success of organizations cannot be reflected only in financial terms. The impact
of organizations’ operations on the environment and their contribution to society have
also become increasingly important. Despite the growing importance for organizations to
achieve so-called corporate sustainability, there is still no standard framework for measur-
ing and promoting it. BEMs, as widely used models to help organizations achieve excellent
performance, have been proposed as appropriate tools to promote corporate sustainability
in a structured way by many researchers, with contradictory, however, results.
Considering that research in the literature on whether BEMs contribute to the achieve-
ment of corporate sustainability mainly concerns previous versions of the BEMs, this study
Sustainability 2022,14, 8175 18 of 20
investigates the extent to which the latest versions of three major BEMs have integrated
sustainability into their principles. After a thorough analysis of the core values and criteria
of the EFQM model, the MBNQA and the Deming Prize, it is obvious that the concept of
corporate sustainability to some extent is embedded into their structure and can be pro-
moted through the implementation of BEMs. These conclusions are similar to the findings
of Asif et al. [
11
] and Jankalováand Jankal [
12
] for the previous versions of the BEMs.
However, the current versions of the three major BEMs address corporate sustainability to
different extent. Among the three BEMs, the EFQM model has taken more steps to become
a framework that supports corporate sustainability.
Despite the effort of the recent revisions of the three BEMs to include into their structure
the concept of corporate sustainability, none of the models can be considered a sustainability
framework, mainly because they are too generic in the use of performance indicators, and
especially of sustainability indicators. Modifications to their structure are necessary if they
are to be regarded as frameworks that can adequately promote corporate sustainability.
BEMs can benefit from their widespread use as structured models for achieving
excellent levels of organizational performance and go a step further to become standard
models for promoting corporate sustainability by integrating sustainability indicators, such
as the ones provided in the GRI reporting framework. GRI indicators can be embedded in
BEMs to assess the performance of organizations against sustainability goals, such as the
ones provided by the United Nations, and a number of important dimensions promoting
corporate sustainability, such as the ones proposed in this study, should be included in
their structure. Future versions of BEMs can take advantage of the findings of this study
and adapt their frameworks accordingly.
Considering that the findings of this study are mainly based on a thorough analysis
of the core values and criteria of the three BEMs and the fact that the latest versions
of the models have not yet been adequately explored or implemented, future research
could include surveys that analyze managers’ perceptions of the extent to which they
believe that the implementation of a specific BEM has contributed to the achievement of
corporate sustainability.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, Y.P. and E.G.; Investigation, Y.P.; Writing—original draft,
Y.P. and E.G.; Writing—review & editing, Y.P. and E.G. All authors have read and agreed to the
published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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