Redefining the Strategy Field in the Age of Sustainability

44 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2014 Last revised: 25 Jul 2016

Ioannis Ioannou

London Business School

Olga Hawn

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Date Written: July 24, 2016


We examine how the strategy field is defined in the literature and find that most conceptualizations focus on financial metrics as measures of performance and only provide guidance on the strategic management of a corporation’s economic context. We then review the externalities and corporate social responsibility literatures and find that environmental and social performance is examined either in isolation or by assuming a strong form of independence from financial performance. Therefore, we identify a clear gap within the strategy field with regards to our understanding of the fundamental strategic problem in the age of sustainability. Importantly, we suggest and discuss an extended definition (i.e., a reconceptualization) of the strategy field, thus expanding its boundaries. We conclude by discussing implications for future research and practice.

Keywords: strategy, sustainability, CSR, externalities

JEL Classification: L1, L2, D6, M1, M2

Suggested Citation

Ioannou, Ioannis and Hawn, Olga, Redefining the Strategy Field in the Age of Sustainability (July 24, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Ioannis Ioannou (Contact Author)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, NW1 4SA
United Kingdom
02070008748 (Phone)


Olga Hawn

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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