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

See all articles by Tobias Hahn

Tobias Hahn

KEDGE Business School

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School

Jonatan Pinkse

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School

Lutz Preuss

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Date Written: April 15, 2010

Abstract

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

Hahn, Tobias and Figge, Frank and Pinkse, Jonatan and Preuss, Lutz, Trade-Offs in Corporate Sustainability: You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat it (April 15, 2010). Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 217-229, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1590065

Tobias Hahn

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy - BP 921
BP 921
Marseille, PACA 13288
France
+33491827313 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kedgebs.com

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy
BP 921 13288 Marseille Cedex 9, 13288
France

Jonatan Pinkse (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School ( email )

Booth Street West
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

Lutz Preuss

University of London - Royal Holloway College ( email )

School of Management
Egham Hill
Egham, TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

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