Sustainability nears a tipping point

By Carla G. Machado (PUCPR/Brazil), Edson Pinheiro de Lima (PUCPR-UTFPR/Brazil) and Sergio E. Gouvea da Costa (PUCPR-UTFPR/Brazil)

An international survey conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group in 2011 was recently published ( The study asked for more than 4,000 managers and executives from companies in 113 different countries, how they are developing and implementing ‘sustainable best practices’.

According to the research report, 70% of the surveyed companies have placed sustainability permanently in their strategic agendas, mainly in the last six years; and 68% of the responses points out that their organizations’ commitment to sustainability has increased in the past year (2010).  Customers are the main reason for companies to change their strategies and business models (41%), followed by compliance to legislation and public policies (35%).

The study also reveals that a significant number of companies that are showing consistent commitment to sustainability are located in emerging economies. The research classifies some companies as Harvesters (31% of all respondents), that is, companies that are making profit from their commitment in developing sustainable strategies and business. Harvesters companies present some remarkable differences in their business models, organizational structures, and operations, for example, 50% of all respondents said that their key performance indicators are related to sustainability.

Governance through sustainable networks also indicates a key role for companies in approaching sustainability.

What are the main challenges we face in transforming enterprises strategies, structures, processes and ‘spaces’ for creating real sustainable actions?