eitheror perspective firms will perceive these tensions as multiple dilemmas

Eitheror perspective firms will perceive these

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either/or perspective, firms will perceive these tensions as multiple dilemmas. Given the dominance of a commercial logic in business organizations, firms will seek to eliminate these dilemmas by selectively picking those environmental and social concerns where business benefits can be expected, dismissing all other sustainability concerns in the process. A paradox perspective on performing tensions embraces conflicts between different performance domains in sustain- ability and seeks to attend to multiple competing sustain- ability goals simultaneously. To work through performing paradoxes, firms engage in ongoing improvisation to attend to the multiple performance areas in a balanced way (Beech et al. 2004 ; Clegg et al. 2002 ). Sustainability concerns that might be in conflict with the organizational goal of prof- itability will thus not be excluded. Rather, contradictory sustainability aspects are juxtaposed without emphasizing one aspect as ‘‘best option.’’ In this way, the performing paradox is kept open and works as an invitation to simulta- neously act on multiple economic, social, and environmental outcomes. Beyond the Business Case It is evident that a paradox perspective on corporate sus- tainability stands in stark contrast to the dominant business case perspective. While early writings on corporate sus- tainability were deeply embedded in a systems logic that takes into account the level-spanning and multifaceted nature of corporate sustainability (Purser et al. 1995 ; Gladwin et al. 1995 ), over the last two decades ‘‘[m]uch of the research on organizational responses to social and environmental issues [ ] has been framed around an instrumental logic, i.e., how firms can benefit from addressing societal concerns’’ (Gao and Bansal 2013 , p. 241). The business case for sustainability is based on the dominance of economics language (Ferraro et al. 2005 ) and appropriates sustainability in terms of narrow business interests (Banerjee 2008 ; Welford 1997 ). The business case logic conceptualizes corporate sustainability solely at the organizational level and seeks to eliminate tensions by aligning environmental and social concerns with the end of improving corporate financial performance (Hahn et al. 2014 ). Most importantly, under a business case logic, envi- ronmental and social concerns are not seen as having intrinsic value. Consequently, contributions to sustainable 238 T. Hahn et al. 123
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development will be limited to those sustainability aspects that promise to result in positive effects on the economic performance or the market position of the firm within a comprehensible timeframe (McWilliams and Siegel 2011 ). This reductionist and instrumental logic of the business case leaves little room for radical shifts in business prac- tices since it seeks to translate responses to intricate sus- tainability issues into measurable and controllable management tasks that fit with conventional business models and practices. This selective and purely instru- mental alignment of sustainability aspects with business
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  • Fall '18
  • DR MAAME ADWOA GYEKYE JANDO
  • normative aspects, T. Hahn

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