Towards sustainable businesses: Insights to sustainable corporate strategies and business models
Convened by: Annukka Näyhä, Tiina Onkila
Businesses have a crucial role in transition towards more sustainable society. Likewise, sustainability aspects have an important role in the management of public and private organizations. Firms are facing increasing interest and demands from various stakeholders concerning their performance and products in terms of environmental and social sustainability. Many businesses also are aiming at restructuring and innovating their business models instead of only minimizing negative environmental and social impacts.
Corporate sustainability strategies and sustainable business models encompass a triple bottom line approach, can facilitate incorporating of sustainability into business goals, and serve as drivers of competitive advantage. (Bocken et al. 2014; Engert and Baumgartner 2015) Business models embedding sustainability aspects require specific adaptations and extensions, and the role of company leaders in changing business models towards greater sustainability is important. (Rauter et al. 2017)
Stakeholders have important role in business transition towards sustainability. They influence on business decision-making by their demands and various value backgrounds, and are influenced by business decisions related with sustainability. (Henriques and Sharma, 2005) However, the way in which sustainability is perceived among stakeholders and business managers is often conflicting, and includes tensions due to diverse values and purposes. Thus, transitions towards sustainability are often trade-off situations in which corporate contributions to sustainable development can be achieved only through compromises and dialogue between different stakeholders with diverse opinions. (Hahn et al. 2010)
From the Finnish perspective, forests and forest-based industries are important; livelihood, cultural and economic development have been based on the forests and exploitation of the forest resource for centuries. More recently forest-based bioeconomy and related new businesses have been set in the core, and the transition towards a bioeconomy is a key political aim set by the Finnish government. The forest-based bioeconomy is driven by sustainability goals, but at the same time large-scale harvesting and related impacts on carbon stock and biodiversity has aroused critical discussions on environmental and social acceptance of these businesses (e.g. Pfau et al. 2014).
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