Posted: Nov 20, 2018
Sustainability involves living mindful of the future, respecting, and embracing life in the present, while caring for the well-being of the generations to follow. Sustainability refers to meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their needs. It involves conserving natural resources and avoiding the waste in operations. Conservation and more efficient use of resources tend to lessen the burden of economic activity on the environment and also helps ensure that the activity can be sustained over time because the resources necessary will not be exhausted. For the last decade, sustainability has become an integral part of doing business in any industry. The social, environmental, and ethical issues are influencing a business decision. The ability to create value from and mitigating the risks associated with the ethical, environmental, and social issues increasingly impacts company reputation, access to capital, markets, and also the shareholder value. In this paper, the focus is on the research topic of building sustainable organization
Analysis of the field
A sustainable organization tends to recognize that the most significant threat to their performance and longevity is the failure to adapting to the changing circumstances. The changes may either occur in the society, environment, or through disruptive technologies or the shifting customer preferences (Jones et al. 2015). Organizational sustainability refers to the ability of the organization to achieve its goals and increase the long-term stakeholder value through integrating social, environmental, and economic opportunities into its strategies. Economists treat sustainability regarding the ways to keep the production system more viable. The ecologists and environmentalists focus on the perpetuation of the environment and its subsystems. On the other hand, sociologists have more concern with the impact on social and cultural systems. According to Wentzel et al. (2012), strong, sustainable development recognizes that different types of capital are interdependent. The capital may include social capital, human resources, economic or financial resources, cultural capital, and natural capital. So as to maintain a strong, sustainable development and equilibrium among the capital stocks, there is a need for careful and considerable choices on how to use each type of capital.
Sustainable development has not been very high on organizational agendas mainly because of the perception that sustainability is expensive to implement. Small enterprises normally lack the physical structure, human capacity, and ideas to integrate sustainability into its plans. Businesses tend to be destroying the world. The social and environmental costs are growing very fast than the benefit of economic growth, which is making us poorer and not richer (Jones et al. 2015). However, there are organizations that are working on changing from the wasteful and destructive practices to the restorative practices, finding competitive advantage, and cutting costs. The way of becoming a sustainable organization tends to be difficult, and it also involves changes to the mindset and innovation.
Building sustainable organizations
Sustainability is becoming a popular topic as the business leaders face hardships with the poor economy. As companies are facing increasing problem when trying to achieve profitability, managers are looking for ways of decreasing costs while they maintain quality products and services. A sustainable organization is one that contributes to sustainable development through delivering simultaneously environmental, economic, and social benefits (Wentzel et al. 2012). There are four inter-related resources in building a sustainable organization. These resources include the organization itself, the environment, its community/society, and its human resources inside and outside the organization (Broadbent et al. 2013). If any one of these resources is not sustainable, then problems for the other three will develop in the long-term. When considering a sustainable organization, if any of the other three resources are not sustainable, neither is the organization (Jones et al. 2015).
The ability to adapt to change is a vital element to the survival of mankind and is a key to success as an organization, community, or corporation. Employees, stakeholders, and citizens should play a part when building a sustainable organization. Sustainable organizations utilize locally appropriate technology and strategies in securing their future ad benefit their locality. According to Broadbent et al. (2013), sustainability is all about operating an organization in an effective and efficient manner. Organizations are starting to shift towards business practices that respect people, planet and profit to remain competitive and also secure respected markets. When focusing on sustainability, it is essential that organizations should measure the resource use and also account for the external costs of services and goods. The benefit of having a sustainable organization is that many of the changes made are beneficial to the environment and health and also helps save money.
There tends to be a growing business interest in building a sustainable organization and increasing research and education interest in the topic of organizational sustainability. Organizations are scrambling to keep up with the fast-paced nature of commerce (Jones et al. 2015). Sustainability is not just a problem of technology or an issue of environmental concern; however, it is an idea that individuals and organization may continue to produce in infinity (Wentzel et al. 2012). Research attention has been focusing on the possible links between profitability and sustainability and also factors that cause organizations to pursue different sustainability strategies. However, there is less known on how to build a sustainable organization. There are various factors that organizations need to consider when building a sustainable organization.
Areas of debate
An important area of concern about this topic is the leadership role in fostering sustainability. There tends to be disagreement that sustainability matters, but the main question is how to implement the sustainability initiative successfully. A common trend in interpreting sustainability implementation is the context of the organizational change. The implementation of a successful sustainability program has organizational culture implications that produce accompanying resistance to change. Hence, an organization that is considering building sustainability potential should be prepared to overcome some of the major barriers such as eccentricities and employee resistance related to the organization-wide culture change. According to Lozano (2012), the internal sustainability goals should fully integrate with the organizational change efforts. It is only through planned organizational change that an organization moves to a sustainable performance. The modern organization usually has different change frameworks to choose from, and it is through successful implementation of the change management process that the organization can address the stakeholder’s needs and develop a long-standing sustainability mentality. According to Banerjee (2012), only output-forced change management process can ensure the success of a sustainability initiative.
Sustainability as challenge for success
While focusing on building a sustainable organization, an area of debate involves the process of sustainability as being a challenge for success. An organization’s contribution to a promising future come from increased positive impact of the business in the society and is achievable if the organization becomes sustainable. So as to assume the challenge, it is necessary that more and more organization should fully integrate themselves the sustainability in their operations and strategies. Sustainability is something that is not easy to achieve. According to Willard (2012), sustainability may be an integral part of the business strategy and operation only if the organization overpass the different challenges in each stage of the process for sustainability and develop new ways to tackle the challenges. Willard (2012), tend to propose five stage process that includes pre-compliance, compliance, beyond compliance, integrated strategy, and the passion and purpose. Compliance is an opportunity arising from the law, but organizations feel pressed to abide by the voluntary codes and legal standards (Farzad & Junker 2015). It tends to be tempting to adhere to the lowest social, economic, and environmental sustainability standard, but those organization is focusing on meeting the most stringent rules and norms gain more time to experiment with technologies, materials, and processes. In this regards, the first-movers tend to yield substantial advantages regarding fostering innovation. There is a lot that organizations need to do so as to ensure true sustainability in the business world.
The system theory tends to suggest that business sustainability factors are mutually dependent that could provide unexpected results. The system thinking theory originated from the concept that any external or internal action affecting one part of the system causes a reaction or the potential new action in others parts of the system (Dawidowicz, 2012). The system theory tends to form a platform for explaining and predicting any potential conflicts or problems in an organization and how the different parts of an organization interact and affect other parts to influence the outcome. The combination of the system thinking and system theory offer organization with tools to help understand the factors that provide sustainability for their businesses. The system thinking tends to be a dynamic business strategy for integrating and adapting project actions in the ever-changing environment. System theory is essential in understand issues relating to sustainability. Collaboration tends to strengthen relationships in a group, and it entails gather people with diverse expertise who understand parts of the system so as to facilitate a better procedure that may lead to organization success (Parker et al. 2012). When using system theory, it tends to provide flexibility in managing complexity, innovativeness, and the uncertainty in innovation projects more successful.
Impact of industries and technologies
The research topic involves building sustainable organizations. Sustainable organizations will have a positive impact on both technologies and industries. Due to the advancement in information and communication technologies, the industrial production tends to be experiencing a transformation process. Building sustainable organization will positively impact the manufacturing industry. Economically, sustainable organizations tend to encourage healthy businesses and industries with minimal environmental impact on the communities (Lozano 2012). Therefore, so as to maximize on the positive impact, the communities need to work towards attracting and supporting such industries and reducing or eliminate the negative impacts of the existing industries.
Building sustainable organizations also have a great impact on small business. It is essential to understand that the small businesses are a source of employment and providers and also consumers of services and goods that sustain the local economy. The operations of small businesses need to support the local ecology, utilize recycled products and materials, and also minimize the energy use and waste (Farzad & Junker 2015). As a way of maximizing the benefits to the small businesses, it is essential that government should focus more attention on providing small businesses with an opportunity of getting in the business world and provide the necessary resources that will help these organizations be successful in this environment.
Technology will continue changing the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the nations and the world community. However, with careful management, new and the emerging technologies offer enormous opportunities for raising productivity and the living standards for improving health and conserving the natural resources (Lozano 2012). The advances in information technology can help in improving productivity, resource efficiency, energy efficiency, and the organizational structure of the industry (Farzad & Junker 2015). Building sustainable organization will have an impact on the biotechnology, which will also have a major implication for the environment. The products of genetic engineering will dramatically improve the animal and human health. So as to maximize the positive impact, it is necessary that researcher receives the necessary support to help them find new therapies, drugs, and ways for controlling the disease vectors. The energy derived from the plants may increasingly substitute for the non-renewable fossil fuels. As a result of sustainability, biotechnology can also yield cleaner and even more efficient alternatives to the many wasteful processes and the polluting products (Serafeim et al. 2012).
The topic also has a great impact on finance and economics. People from different areas play a role in the future of the local economy. Building a sustainable organization is essential as it has a positive impact on economics and finance. While working together, local non-profit organizations, business leaders, government leaders, and citizens may analyze the resources and needs and guide the economy. There are different ways to maximize the positive impact. Pollution tends to be a form of waste, and it is also a symptom of inefficiency in industrial production. When the industries are recognizing pollution as being a cost, it motivates them to make an investment in improving the processes and products to increase efficiency (Li-Hua & Lu 2013). Thus, they reduce the pollution and waste that they generate while focusing on increasing the economic performance.
When focusing on the topic of building a sustainable organization, an area of further research in this topic that can prove beneficial is sustainability in small businesses. Building business sustainability usually makes firms resilient as they tend to be better equipped to adapt to change. Sustainable organization are usually prepared for the future as they understand how their actions affect the natural environment, create long-term financial values, and also see their ties to others and contribute positive social change. There tends to be less research that focuses on sustainability and how it can benefit small business. Sustainability usually has environmental, social, and financial benefits that reinforce each other.
Sustainability tends to be a good choice for companies, society, and the environment. However, small businesses are facing some challenging at start-up and all through the life of the company (Serafeim et al. 2012). The survival of the small businesses continue to be a great problem, and the number of failures tends to exceed the number of new businesses that start every year. Some of the challenges include the high operating cost, barriers to entry, and also a small customer base. With a tight budget, it tends to be very difficult to convince managers to consider pursuing a costly move towards and environmental focus or even a social concern strategy. Successful small businesses tend to create a positive chain effect through helping communities, employees, families, and the government. While small business continues to fail in the business world, there is a need for further research that will help focus on strategies that small business can consider so as to be more sustainable (Li-Hua & Lu 2013). Identifying the factors that ensure the sustainability of small business can provide information that will help small business owners to improve their performance and also reduce the risk of failing. Also, identifying the success factors for the sustainability of small business can benefit every segment of the economy.
The impact of building sustainable organizations
Studying how to build sustainable organizations is of great impact in the field of sustainability. When building a sustainable organization, it is necessary for organizations to understand the benefit that they will achieve. Becoming environment-friendly tend to lower costs because organizations end up reducing the input that they use (Serafeim et al. 2012). Additionally, the process tends to generate additional revenue from the better products or even enables firms to create new business.
The benefit of this topic is that it provides an excellent analysis of building a sustainable organization. With a better understanding of sustainability, we find that companies can now start treating sustainability as innovation’s new frontier. The pursuit of sustainability is starting to transform the competitive landscape that will force firms to change the way they think about technologies, processes, products, and business models (Li-Hua & Lu 2013). When firms start treating sustainability as a goal today, the early movers will develop competencies that rivals will be pressed to match. The contribution of an organization a promising future through sustainability became a reality when sustainability judged as a progressive process that starts with the compliance and continues with sustainable value change and the design of the sustainable services and goods. The process will then end with the development of new business models.
Sustainable growth entails a business model that creates value consistent with the long-term enhancement and preservation of environmental, social, and financial capital. Sustainability in the organization entails the principle of enhancing environmental, societal, and economic systems in which a business operates. In ensuring sustainability, an important aspect is that organizations should measure the resource use and account for the external costs of goods and services. So that an organization can achieve sustainability to the end, it should have a sustainable strategy as the general business strategy. Those organizations that consider a sustainable strategy and practices are usually in a position of driving value through growing revenues regarding new services and products. They reduce costs through eco-efficiency, managing regulatory and operational risks more effective and also building intangible assets such as reputation, brand, and collaborative networks with suppliers, customers, and competitors.
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