Trade-Offs in Corporate Sustainability: You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat it
Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 217-229, 2010
23 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2010
Date Written: April 15, 2010
The mainstream of the literature on corporate sustainability follows the win-win paradigm according to which economic, environmental and social sustainability aspects can be achieved simultaneously; indeed corporate sustainability has often been defined by the intersection of these three areas. However, given the multi-faceted and complex nature of sustainable development, we argue that trade-offs and conflicts in corporate sustainability are the rule rather than the exception. Turning a blind eye to trade-offs thus results in a limited perspective on corporate contributions to sustainable development. In order to overcome this situation, we propose an initial framework for the analysis of trade-offs in corporate sustainability. By doing so, we pursue two aims. First, the framework serves as a starting point for a more systematic analysis of trade-offs in corporate sustainability as it identifies different levels and dimensions to characterise such trade-offs. Second, it serves to contextualise the contributions to this special issue on trade-offs in corporate sustainability. Based on the framework, we finally point to some promising avenues for future research on trade-offs in and a more inclusive notion of corporate sustainability.
Keywords: Trade-offs, corporate sustainability, dilemmas, conflicts, sustainable development
JEL Classification: D21, L1, L2, M1, M14, O13, O3, Q2, Q4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?
By Ans Kolk
By Diane Holt