Improve Your Sustainability Programs Through Organizational Learning
How can sustainability knowledge be diffused among colleagues and employees? A number of factors facilitate organizational learning, and the results of the learning processes. By examining six business cases, the authors find that both internal factors and external factors influence learning. Internal factors include ideas that promote learning, leadership styles, how information is communicated internally and the presence of change agents. External factors included stakeholder pressure and government regulation.
BackgroundIn managing sustainability activities, managers typically focus on improving performance or redesigning strategies. They often neglect the importance and role of learning in implementing changes. Organizational learning is key to embedding sustainability in companies, yet the research in this area is sparse. As companies increasingly engage in sustainable business practices, the importance of understanding how to continuously learn about sustainability—and spread this learning across the business—becomes critical.
Future research can examine how the demand for sustainable products can be increased to create an impetus for ongoing organizational learning in the context of sustainability. Researchers may also examine how structures for sustainability-related learning relate to sustainability and corporate principles in general.
This paper analyzes six business cases of medium and large-sized companies relating to their sustainability objectives by conducting group interviews and follow-up surveys. The authors interpreted their results using a conceptual framework of sustainable learning processes.