The Purpose Ecosystem and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Interactions Among Private Sector Actors and Stakeholders

Journal of Business Ethics 180 (4):1097-1112 (2022)
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Abstract

In this paper we explore the nature of the emerging purpose ecosystem and its role in transforming and supporting business to help address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We argue that interactions among its ‘private actors’, who share efforts and belief in changing and redefining the purpose and nature of business by advocating broader non-financial performance outcomes, have the potential to contribute to a wider sustainability-oriented transformation of the business sector. Through interview data collected in the UK and Australia, we identify six main roles that characterise the activities and interactions among its actors and their stakeholders. Our research contributes to expanding knowledge on the emerging phenomenon of the purpose ecosystem and how its actors support the achievement of the UN SDGs by seeking to change the purpose of business and integrating the goals into their operations and engagements with stakeholders.

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