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Strategic and Sustainable Organisation

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Strategic and Sustainable Organisation

Tri Chau Duc – s174000

Department of Management and Organisation

Hanken School of Economics




1        INTRODUCTION        1

References        11



Strategy and sustainability in today’s business world are becoming more interconnected and both indispensable for the success of any organisation. Most notably, an increasing environmental and social attention within the business community, who used to be perceived as the enemy of the environment, has been clearly recorded in many countries and many industries. This positive shift, as argued by Leon (2013), is the base for the creation of the new concept called “sustainable organisation”. According to Elkington (1997), the quest for the course of actions towards sustainability will create an exceptional source of opportunities for organisation to be more competitive in the market. However, it will also require the organisation to change the way it is operating, or even change the core organisation’s vision and organisational strategy, implying that sustainability should be implemented with a strategic manner. These two significant aspects of organisation prompt me to examine the concept of “strategic and sustainable organisation”.  

The term “strategy” has appeared for ages, firstly in the military management in China during the period of 400 – 200 B.C from the need of defeating enemies (Horwath, 2006), and then was widely adopted in the of other forms of organizations as politics and business. Every organization, regardless of its size, sector, purposes of operation, or structure, needs a strategy, from which the top management creates a common vision and direction, and define actions for the whole organization toward its desired purposes, objectives of goals. Strategy is a common theme of strategic decisions through which an organisation tries to relate itself with the environment which involves major resources commitment to develop certain advantages which help in achieving its vision and mission.

Emerging more recently, the concept of sustainability has also received growing recognition among policy-makers, NGOs, businesses, civil community, and consumers. The concept refers to the ability of an organization to successfully sustain an equilibrium between the economic growth, environment protection, and social well-being. Interestingly, while there are organisation constructs sustainability as a separate division, some others integrate sustainability into organisational strategy as a way to drive its operation toward a more sustainable way. No matter whichever is the right approach, it is demonstrating a importance of sustainable practices to the endurance and development of organisations.

This papers aims to answer the question: “What is strategic and sustainable organization?” by exploring the characteristics of strategy and sustainability within the organization context.  The knowledge base for this paper will primarily be the required reading materials, lectures during the course of Strategic and Sustainable Organisation, and seminars on the sustainably-related topics that I attended. Furthermore, my own knowledge and experience acquired from previous learning and working environments, from supplemental studies at my disposal, and any additional data that I may find relevant will be reflected properly in the paper.      

In this paper, the focus is placed on the business organization, whose top priority is profit maximization, as opposed to the non-profit organisations. As the business organisations are focused on the aim to earn profit through their operations and are hence concerned with their own interests, this makes for an interesting research focus. Since non-profit organisations focus on goals such as helping the community and are concerned with money only as much as necessary to keep the organization operating, they are arguably inherently more sustainability-oriented than for-profit organisations.


Strategy is not a new concept as it has been applied in the field of military management thousand years ago. The term strategy itself is originated from the ancient Greek "strategos", which means "a general" and refers to the large-scale planning and directing of military forces during wartime as well as peacetime (Wikipedia). However, strategy has only become a popular discipline in the field of business management since the 1950s and 1960s, when the rise of international trade and increased competition among businesses forced organisations to explore new approach to remain survival in the environment where they were operating, and to be competitive over their rivals. Since then, many researchers and practitioners have proposed different definitions on strategy. For example, Johnson et al (2008) defined strategy as “Strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation over the long term, which achieves advantage in a changing environment through its configuration of resources and competences with the aim of fulfilling stockholder expectations” Johnson et al (2008). Or the Oxford English Dictionary describes strategy as a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

In any found definitions of strategy, there is a high consensus about the time-related characteristic of strategy. Specifically, a strategy is targeting to a long-term goals rather than a short-term benefits. Or in other word, with strategy, an organisation expects to foresee the future from the actions it takes in the present.  According to Kornberger (2013), strategy is considered a distinctive technique that the modern organisation uses to discipline the future, enact the future from present. Therefore, a strategic organisation is likely to pursuit a long-term planning, that sometimes asks for sacrificing the immediate financial profits. The prominent role models for the long-term strategic thinking includes the Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman, who declared to release earnings figures semi-annually, not quarterly report regime, or Warren Buffet who opposes the frequent earnings announcement practices, or Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos who encourages long-term thinking from shareholders (Bansal and DesJardine, 2016).



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