Sustainable Development in Organizations

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In modern times, unlike in ancient times, resources are increasingly becoming scarce for both present and future generations, owing to the rising population. Also, there are proponents who have put forth arguments, based on facts, which the manner in which development takes place is not fit to cater for future generations. Therefore, sustainable development has been proposed as a just, equitable and ethical use of resources, to both present and future generations. In the discussion below, I intend to look at the broader perspective of the idea, its applicability in organizations, theoretical framework, and also, the challenges that stem from its implementation. Additionally, it is crucial to look at the opportunities people can gain should organizations embrace the concept.

Description of the Concept and its Theoretical Implication

            There are various definitions which try to explain the concept. However, one general explanation that I find fitting in regards to encompassing all aspects of the idea is the use of available resources to satisfy the present needs but in a way that does not limit using the same resources to cater efficiently for the needs of future generations (Blewitt, 2014). It is worth noting that the description suggests that communities have needs and available resources to fulfill can be limited. It is for this reason that people must act responsibly to ensure sustainability of resources. On the other hand, although the concept is founded on equity and ethical concerns, it comes along with a utopian idea. In particular, it creates an illusion that it is possible to have a society with no shortage of resources. Also, the notion that people acts justly without abuses, either to the ecosystem or community with detrimental effects for future generations. Moreover, the idea revolves around three critical aspects, that is; social responsibility, environmental protection and economic development (Krut, & Gleckman, 2013). Looking at the three pillars, to start with environmental protection, both present, and future generations need an ecosystem for survival, thus, compromising it puts humanity at risks. Also, in regards to social responsibility, it is essential that human activity does not hamper the ability of people to have the equitable accessibility of resources. Lastly, there is the need for economic growth to be balanced.

Application of the Idea in Organizations

            In organizations, the idea can be applied in various ways. To start with, the environment, corporations or institutions have to embrace environmental conservation, for instance, use of clean fuel to avoid the emission of carbon products that damage the ecosystem, by planting of trees and avoiding the use of exploitative technology. Also, an organization can be at the forefront in reducing wastage of resources, be they human or environmental. It is also possible for such bodies to engage in the reclamation of resources, as a way of avoiding wastage of resources. On the other hand, in regards to the social aspect of sustainable development, an organization needs to create conducive environment for both the safety and health of its workers (Reid, 2013). It is true that healthy and safe employees are effective and productive for both present and future tasks. It is for this reason the move qualifies as a social responsibility organization can make in embracing sustainable development. Moreover, organizations can apply sustainable progress by trying to not only improve the living conditions of communities but also, helping disadvantaged groups. Lastly, there is the economic aspect of sustainable development. In organizations, one of the best ways to demonstrate it is through putting measures to add value to the economy. Apart from additional value, sustainable development can be applied in organizations to reduce the amount of input or resources used in production. Lastly, it is important to note that instead of limiting existing opportunities or markets, organizations can look for ways of creating new ones (Krut, & Gleckman, 2013). In so doing, the economy enlarges to accommodate all groups of people irrespective of an increase in population or growth in production of either goods or services.

Challenges for Organization in Applying the Concept

            On the other hand, the idea has its challenges which are evident when applying it to an organization. Firstly, scholars argue that it is not possible for an organization to engage in advancing social responsibility for locals and at the same time perform well financially. Specifically, in trying to improve the living conditions of local communities, organizations will have to use a lot of resources and in effect, reduce the growth and expansion of the corporation. Also, there will likely be a conflict between social and environmental or economic interests in promoting sustainable development (Baumgartner, 2014). For instance, methods of environmental conservation may conflict with societal needs, or the interest of the society may not be good for economic growth. There are also ethical concerns on whether organizations are entitled to engage in social activities or have to stay put in their economic objectives (Eskerod, & Huemann, 2013). According to economists, a profit-maximization syndrome is what sustains economic growth for the organization, and therefore, adopting sustainable development is a huge burden that only works to undermine organizational goals. In particular, all the principles and values that make a business successful do not agree with the whole idea of sustainable development (Merad et al., 2013). However, we stand to benefit should sustainable develop be applied in organizations. For instance; by having a healthy environment, improvement in living conditions, and accessibility of resources that meet the daily needs.

Synthesis of the Discussion

            Throughout my research and discussion above, it is clear the idea of sustainable development revolves around three arms; that is, economic, environmental and societal responsibility. In addition, the scarcity or potential of resources to be limited in future is what brings about the concept of sustainability. I have learned some ways of ensuring development sustainability within the three realms, for instance; by protecting the environment, promoting social responsibility and embracing an economic growth that takes into consideration all aspects of development. Although the idea can be applied in organizations, for instance, by creating new markets, creating a safe environment for workers and use of clean fuel, there are both challenges as well as opportunities that come with such a move. To start with challenges, economists warn that the whole idea is vague as far as business activities are concerned. In that, the basic principles that ensure economic growth in organizations are compromised when adopting the idea. Also, there is likely to be a conflict of interest among the three arms of sustainable development. On the other hand, I have been enlightened by research on the topic that the lower class and future generations stands to benefits from the equitable, fair and ethical distribution of resources.


Baumgartner, R. J. (2014). Managing corporate sustainability and CSR: A conceptual framework combining values, strategies and instruments contributing to sustainable development. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 21(5), 258-271.

Blewitt, J. (2014). Understanding sustainable development. Routledge.

Eskerod, P., & Huemann, M. (2013). Sustainable development and project stakeholder management: What standards say. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 6(1), 36-50.

Krut, R., & Gleckman, H. (2013). ISO 14001: A missed opportunity for sustainable global industrial development. Routledge.

Merad, M., Dechy, N., Serir, L., Grabisch, M., & Marcel, F. (2013). Using a multi-criteria decision aid methodology to implement sustainable development principles within an organization. European Journal of Operational Research, 224(3), 603-613.

Reid, D. (2013). Sustainable development: an introductory guide. Routledge.

January 19, 2024


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