A Heuristic Model for Establishing Trade-Offs in Corporate Sustainability Performance Measurement Systems

Journal of Business Ethics 144 (2):323-342 (2017)
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Abstract

A large body of the literature on sustainability indicators, assessments and reporting is currently available. However, sustainability performance measurement systems have an insubstantial presence in the literature. Invariably, a sustainability performance measurement system presents the potential for certain trade-offs or opportunity costs for organizations. Extant sustainability platforms and standards are largely silent about how to deal with trade-offs. Utilizing evidence from the literature, as well as contingency factors, this paper seeks to present a heuristic model for establishing trade-offs in corporate sustainability performance measurement systems. Trade-offs in this area revolve around performance measurement, stakeholder management, competitive advantage, as well as the vertical and horizontal integration of the performance platform. This is particularly important for organizations seeking to establish, integrate or expand their environmental management systems into the area of sustainability. As yet, formalistic attempts to deal with trade-offs in sustainability performance measurement systems are infrequent and vague.

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