- Trade-offs in corporate sustainability: you can't have your cake and eat it
- Business Strategy and the Environment
- Volume | Issue number
- 19 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
- Amsterdam Business School Research Institute (ABS-RI)
The mainstream of the literature on corporate sustainability follows the win-win paradigm, according to which economic, environmental and social sustainability aspects can be achieved simultaneously; indeed, corporate sustainability has often been defined by the intersection of these three areas. However, given the multi-faceted and complex nature of sustainable development, we argue that trade-offs and conflicts in corporate sustainability are the rule rather than the exception. Turning a blind eye to trade-offs thus results in a limited perspective on corporate contributions to sustainable development. In order to overcome this situation, we propose an initial framework for the analysis of trade-offs in corporate sustainability. By doing so, we pursue two aims. First, the framework serves as a starting point for a more systematic analysis of trade-offs in corporate sustainability, as it identifies different levels and dimensions to characterize such trade-offs. Second, it serves to contextualize the contributions to this special issue on trade-offs in corporate sustainability. Based on the framework, we finally point to some promising avenues for future research on trade-offs in, and a more inclusive notion of, corporate sustainability.
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