Tensions in Corporate Sustainability: Towards an Integrative Framework

52 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2014 Last revised: 5 Jun 2015

See all articles by Tobias Hahn

Tobias Hahn

KEDGE Business School

Jonatan Pinkse

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School

Lutz Preuss

University of London - Royal Holloway College

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School

Date Written: January 5, 2014

Abstract

This paper proposes a systematic framework for the analysis of tensions in corporate sustainability. The framework is based on the emerging integrative view on corporate sustainability, which stresses the need for a simultaneous integration of economic, environmental and social dimensions without, a priori, emphasising one over any other. The integrative view presupposes that firms need to accept tensions in corporate sustainability and pursue different sustainability aspects simultaneously even if they seem to contradict each other. The framework proposed in this paper goes beyond the traditional triad of economic, environmental and social dimensions and argues that tensions in corporate sustainability occur between different levels, in change processes and within a temporal and spatial context. The framework provides vital groundwork for managing tensions in corporate sustainability based on paradox strategies. The paper then applies the framework to identify and characterise four selected tensions and illustrates how key approaches from the literature on strategic contradictions, tensions and paradoxes – i.e. acceptance and resolution strategies – can be used to manage these tensions. Thereby, it refines the emerging literature on the integrative view for the management of tensions in corporate sustainability. The framework also provides managers with a better understanding of tensions in corporate sustainability and enables them to embrace these tensions in their decision-making.

Keywords: corporate sustainability; tensions; integrative view; paradox strategies; sustainable development; triple bottom line

JEL Classification: M14

Suggested Citation

Hahn, Tobias and Pinkse, Jonatan and Preuss, Lutz and Figge, Frank, Tensions in Corporate Sustainability: Towards an Integrative Framework (January 5, 2014). Journal of Business Ethics, 127(2), 297-316, doi: 10.1007/s10551-014-2047-5, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2374832

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

Jonatan Pinkse

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

Frank Figge

KEDGE Business School ( email )

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

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
284
Abstract Views
1,572
rank
108,015
PlumX Metrics