Beyond the Bounded Instrumentality in Current Corporate Sustainability Research: Toward an Inclusive Notion of Profitability

55 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014

See all articles by Tobias Hahn

Tobias Hahn

KEDGE Business School

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School

Abstract

We argue that the majority of the current approaches in research on corporate sustainability are inconsistent with the notion of sustainable development. By defining the notion of instrumentality in the context of corporate sustainability through three conceptual principles we show that current approaches are rooted in a bounded notion of instrumentality which establishes a systematic a priori predominance of economic organizational outcomes over environmental and social aspects. We propose an inclusive notion of profitability that reflects the return on all forms of environmental, social, and economic capital used by a firm. This inclusive notion of corporate profitability helps to redefine corporate profitability as if sustainability matters in that it overcomes the bounded instrumentality that impairs current research on corporate sustainability. We apply this notion to different car manufacturers and develop conceptual implications for future research on corporate sustainability.

Keywords: Corporate sustainability, Corporate objective function, Instrumentality, Profitability, Car industry

Suggested Citation

Hahn, Tobias and Figge, Frank, Beyond the Bounded Instrumentality in Current Corporate Sustainability Research: Toward an Inclusive Notion of Profitability. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 104, No. 3, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2277831

Tobias Hahn (Contact Author)

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

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