Sustainability: The missing ingredient in strategy

Ingrid Bonn, Josie Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose This paper explores ways in which different dimensions of sustainability can be addressed at the strategic level within organizations. Design/methodology/approach Building upon previous research, the authors provide a conceptual overview before developing a framework that outlines how sustainability can be addressed during the strategic decisionmaking process and as part of the organization's corporate, business and functional level strategies. Findings Research has demonstrated that many managers do not understand how to make their organizations more sustainable, even though they recognize the benefits of doing so. The framework developed in this paper suggests a way for managers to integrate sustainability into strategy. It focuses on the strategic decisionmaking process, including the cognitive characteristics of strategic decisionmakers and the strategy content at the corporate, business and functional levels. The authors also address the role of organizational culture and vision in supporting sustainable strategies. The framework is illustrated by case examples of BHP Billiton, Loving Earth, the Australian Wine Industry, and Migros. Practical implications The framework can be used by managers and scholars to assess the degree to which organizations have strategically addressed sustainability and to identify opportunities for further improvements. Originality/value The value of this paper lies in the treatment of sustainability as a strategic, as opposed to an operational, issue. By adopting a strategic approach to sustainability, organizations are more likely to include economic, environmental and social considerations in all aspects of business on an ongoing basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Strategy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2011


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