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Managing The Tensions At The Intersection Of The Triple Bottom Line: A Paradox Theory Approach To Sustainability Management

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Lucie K. Ozanne, Marcus Phipps, Todd Weaver, Michal Carrington, Michael Luchs, Jesse Catlin, Shipra Gupta, Nicholas Santos, Kristin Scott, Jerome Williams


Corporate sustainability management encompasses multiple dimensions: environmental, social, and economic. Companies are increasingly evaluated within the public sphere, and within their own organizations, according to the degree to which they are perceived to simultaneously promote this nexus of virtues. This article seeks to explore the tensions frequently faced by organizations that strive to manage these dimensions and the role of public policy in that pursuit. A multiple-case study approach is utilized in which the authors selected case organizations according to whether they were attempting to manage the three dimensions of sustainability. The authors utilize paradox theory and a typology provided by previous research to understand the nature of the tensions that emerge in the selected case study organizations. They extend this previous work by examining the role of public policy in providing the situational conditions to make these paradoxical tensions salient, and they examine organizational responses to these conditions. Directions for firms, policymakers, and future researchers are provided on the basis of this study's findings.

Triple Bottom Line, Corporate Sustainability, Paradox Theory, Environment, Social Justice


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