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Call for Papers: “Sustaining Sustainability in Organizations”

Special Issue in the Journal of Business Ethics

Guest Editors
Timo Busch, ETH Zurich
Deborah E. de Lange, Suffolk University
Javier Delgado-Ceballos, University of Granada
Alfred Marcus, University of Minnesota
Jonatan Pinkse, University of Amsterdam Business School

With this call for papers, we intend to invite research that advances a discussion that relates to how sustainability is developed and maintained (sustained) in organizations with a particular emphasis on international organizations, whether they are multinational corporations (MNCs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or international governmental organizations (IGOs). We consider sustainability to be an approach to business that considers economic, environmental and social issues in balanced, holistic and long term ways that benefit current and future generations of concerned stakeholders. The invited research may contribute on multiple levels: individual, organization, industry, field or community, and international or global levels, to develop research about how to sustain sustainability in organizations from management and ethical perspectives, particularly using theoretical lenses of strategy and organization theory. The impact of ethical, sustainable thinking and the associated deep rooted changes have enhanced business and society. Now, managers and others need to ensure the sense of urgency is sustained so that they do not lose ground and rather, ensure that ethical, sustainable progress continues. We will consider both theoretical and empirical papers and suggest particular subtopic areas below. This issue will publish high quality and progressive scholarship that builds theory. Furthermore, the research included will develop the area of sustainability so that it moves toward a more mature stage. Submissions may focus on, but must not be limited to, one of the following domains:

Sustaining Sustainability in Organizations Subtopic Areas and Questions:
1) Types of Organizations: MNCs, NGOs, and IGOs

  • How do concerned stakeholders maintain their ethical influence on MNCs so that MNCs continuously improve in regards to sustainability and ethics?
  • How do MNCs define and enact CSR? After this has happened, how do firms maintain the focus on it over time so that they do not lapse into old bad habits?
  • How do stakeholders, in comparison to MNCs, expect sustainability practices to evolve; what outcomes do they expect? Will ethical, sustainable practices prevail with stakeholders’ support?
  • How do the stakeholders and MNCs resolve differences and tensions these days and how has it changed?
  • What are the future plans of MNCs in terms of their sustainable transformation? How fast do they plan to change and which stakeholders are they choosing to satisfy? Which ones will be left unsatisfied and what will be the consequences? Is this possible imbalance acceptable from an ethical standpoint?
  • How does the presence of MNCs affect the progress of sustainability in developed nations?
  • How do MNCs transfer sustainability innovation from one subsidiary to others? What is the role of the headquarters?
  • What are IGOs and NGOs doing to continue to promote and maintain sustainable practices and ethics in organizations globally?
  • What are IGOs’ and NGO’s capabilities compared to MNCs’, in respect of promoting sustainability globally?
  • What motivates IGOs and NGOs to promote sustainability and how impactful are the actions? Which ones find long term success in their sustainability initiatives and why?
  • Are developing nations acting in a sustainable and ethical manner and can they? If they are, how are they doing so and maintaining their progress?
  • What are IGOs and NGOs doing to support or hinder sustainable development in either developing or developed nations? What are the differences in their approaches in these different environments?
  • Are IGOs and NGOs providing continuing support through incentives to environmental entrepreneurs for their sustainable technological developments and is it working? Are these incentives and projects nationally strategic to the countries in which the entrepreneurs reside such that there is beneficial economic development? Does the support include emphasis on ethical decision making and management practices?
  • How do IGOs and NGOs coordinate and collaborate with each other, with governments and with firms to influence sustainable practices?
  • 2) Types of Activities: Environmental Innovation and Combating Climate Change

  • How do firms harness creative destruction when pursuing environmental sustainability efforts? What happens after the big changes? Does sustainability innovation become incremental?
  • What talents and special expertise are required for environmental innovation? Is ethical character and behavior part of the talent profile? How has the labor pool changed to support this special type of sustainable innovation e.g., full life cycle designs and use or development of special reusable or recyclable materials.
  • Is there a global model of firm sustainability innovation that has been sustained? If there is, does/do the model(s) include subscription to a set of ethical values, what are they, and how is the ethical culture sustained?
  • How does green technology evolution and revolution affect the current and future competitive landscape? Will competitive behavior amongst firms also become more ethical because the technological shift is one towards sustainability?
  • Which firms will survive the changes and will we experience an increase in competition or more oligopoly due to the large investments required to develop green technology and commercialize it?
  • Who will be the winners and losers as we adopt green technologies and retire the old ones? What are the ethical questions to consider under these circumstances?
  • How will consumers benefit from green technology? Will life become cheaper and will our standard of living improve overall? How will the benefits of green technology be distributed?
  • How do consumers need to change so as to support the green technology revolution? Will they change and if so, how fast? Will demand increase for goods and services produced in currently perceived ethical, sustainable ways and will the related standards be maintained and improved? How will ethical, sustainable standards be set so as to satisfy consumer tastes and expectations?
  • How have firms responded to climate change and maintained their sustainable performance? What processes of learning and change have they undergone in order to find the right balance between seeking profitability and fighting climate change?
  • What kinds of organizational changes have helped firms to adapt to the environmental changes that the world is experiencing?
  • Are firms changing adequately to help slow climate change and if not, what more needs to be achieved?
  • What aspects of supply chains are most impactful on climate change and how should firms discover and adopt best practices in their global supply chains?
  • Timeline, Process & Standards
    To be considered for the special issue, “Sustaining Sustainability in Organizations”, full papers must be submitted by May 1, 2011. All submissions will go through a doubleblind peer review process. Therefore, all author-identifying information should be removed from the paper except for a cover page sent separately. We advise all non-native speakers to have their papers checked by a native speaker. The formatting of the paper has to follow the guidelines of the Journal of Business Ethics. Publication of the Special Issue is envisioned for late 2012.

    Papers completed at the Academy of Management professional development workshop, “Passion for Sustainability: A Continuance of Scholarship”, will be considered for the Special Issue. Additionally, an open call for papers through many academic channels including the ONE, OMT, SIM, TIM and BPS Divisions of Academy of Management and through the GRONEN community will be used to seek out papers to complete the issue. Therefore, consideration of papers for the Special Issue is not bound to conference

    Full papers should be submitted to Deborah E. de Lange at Please send the paper as a Word or pdf document without identifying information and a separate cover page having identifying information in the same email to Debbie.