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Sustainability as a driver for corporate economic success

Consequences for the development of sustainability management control

Society and Economy
Author: Stefan Schaltegger

Sustainability issues create opportunities and threats to business success. This paper discusses drivers to create a business case for sustainability and argues for a more systematic approach to management than current approaches which in practice involve working with checklists. Based on the core logic of the Sustainability Balanced Scorecard (SBSC) perspectives, a structure for sustainability management control is discussed.

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The operationalisation of sustainability on the corporate level is recognised to be a management task and implies the choice and application of management tools. Although researchers have proposed a large number of sustainability management tools in the literature, little is known about their acceptance and implementation. This paper extends the existing literature on the dissemination of tools. It discusses which sustainability management tools are known and applied in practice, and conducts a longitudinal analysis based on three empirical surveys among large German companies carried out in 2002, 2006 and 2010. One important result is that the knowledge and the application of sustainability management tools are positively related. Furthermore, the application of sustainability management tools has increased throughout the period of the surveys. A main conclusion drawn from the empirical results is that increased knowledge, for example through the promotion of approaches and professional education, may be a driver of more frequent application and the dissemination of sustainability management tools, and may foster sustainable development.

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