NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ922572
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 42
ISSN: ISSN-0969-6474
The Shift Needed for Sustainability
Smith, Peter A. C.; Sharicz, Carol
Learning Organization, v18 n1 p73-86 2011
Purpose: The purpose of this action research is to begin to assess to what extent organizations have in practice begun to make the shift towards triple bottom line (TBL) sustainability. Design/methodology/approach: A definition of TBL sustainability is provided, and key elements of TBL sustainability considered necessary to success are identified based on current literature and public commentary. An assessment is made via published surveys and an action research study of how these components are being addressed now and for the future. The action research study involved the design and launching of a Zoomerang survey that was posted both in the USA and on international websites and blogs. Findings: The synthesis from the research reveals a lack of a clear definition of sustainability which sets in motion a whole systemic dynamic. The data from the action research exemplify this dynamic. First, there is a pattern of adopting a short-term focus and expediency in decision making. Second, problem solving favors the "quick fix" over thoughtful consideration and development of the key components for sustainability. The research may also lead to questioning the urgency of implementing the very complex systemic TBL sustainability at this time in view of widespread climate concerns, versus concentrating on the more straightforward carbon footprint reduction. Research limitations/implications: A major implication is the pressing need to clearly define sustainability and its organizational implications. Organizations must then make the shift from a short-term perspective to more of a long-term perspective, such that the clearly defined sustainability concerns will be addressed. Research conclusions are based on limited published data and a single survey; further research is required to substantiate the conclusions. Practical implications: Sustainability is making some inroads in organizations but far too many organizations are only "going through the motions" with predictable results for overall need for improvement. A cohesive, clear linkage among the defining characteristics of sustainability, and guidelines for implementation, are proposed in this paper. Originality/value: This action research presents data on how sustainability is actually viewed and implemented in organizations, and suggests from a systemic point of view which critical components of sustainability are yet to be seriously addressed. (Contains 1 table and 2 figures.)
Emerald. One Mifflin Place Suite 400, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 617-576-5782; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States