Defining Sustainability In The Business Setting

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Justin Bateh
Camille Heaton
Gordon W. Arbogast
Ardell Broadbent


Organizational Sustainability, Accountability, Transparency


Sustainability has become a buzzword in organizational research and ecological science. Much has been said about the role of sustainability for organizational development and markets. Thousands of organizations worldwide have adopted sustainability strategies to boost their productivity and develop a competitive advantage. Yet the concept of sustainability is so complex that it is virtually impossible to ensure a standardized definition or for one organization to understand all its facets in detail. Moreover, under the influence of its own popularity, the concept of sustainability constantly evolves and changes meaning. More often than not, organizations and leaders develop a narrow view of sustainability. They consider only the aspects of sustainability that are directly related to their sphere of performance. In this article, three elements of the definition of sustainability are discussed: longevity, maintenance of core principles or purposes, and responsibility to external needs. The term organization is used because the principles are often applicable to governmental and non-profit organizations as well as businesses.


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