Corporate Sustainability Implementation. Mapping of sustainability approaches and implementation-strategy evaluation of selected front-running companies
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The field of Corporate Sustainability (CS) has been gaining significant momentum for several years but it is still lacking clarity within the categorization and mapping of its approaches as well as practical translations into business actions. A large number of approaches such as Cradle 2 Cradle, The Natural Step or Cleaner Production have been developed but no clear categorization and mapping methodology has been established yet with which these approaches could be assessed on their underlying characteristics. So far it seems more as if concepts are somehow existent but not clearly integrated into the ‘house of Corporate Sustainability’ and thus not fully aligned with each other. This thesis justifies in chapter 1 that there is an urgent need for a sustainable behaviour of companies and introduces to the chosen structure and methodology. Companies play a major role within the debate but often see themselves overwhelmed by the challenges of integrating CS into their ‘DNA’. In the two following chapters an overview about the current understanding of CS as a concept as well as its strategic implications for the implementation (Chapter 2 and 3) are explained in further detail. CS is nowadays seen as significantly more than ‘only’ predominantly socially focused CSR and a sound implementation can offer serious benefits for each adopter. The business case is proven by the majority of researchers, if the concept of CS is applied correctly. The common part of the thesis (chapter 4) provides a sound methodology for the assessment and mapping of specific sustainability approaches as well as for the mapping of business strategies. An application suggestion will be provided at the end and later on applied within the case studies. In this research thesis four case studies of front-running companies (chapter 5 and 6) will be presented which focus mainly on the analysis of their current (a) status of CS development as well as on (b) lessons-learned from the CS implementation process. The mapping which was carried out with those companies, by the help of the developed mapping methodology (MoCSAs) provides a clear overview about the characteristics of the chosen sustainability strategy/approach of the respective companies. Identified success factors as well as barriers/challenges will be highlighted and added by empirical findings from interviews with four sustainability consultants. The overarching goal of this thesis is to understand and learn from the CS implementation process of front-runners and to provide a methodology with which companies can easily assess their current position and thus derive implications for CS development fields. The applied methodology for assessing CS approaches as well as chosen strategies in a more conscious way as well as the insights about success factors and barriers/challenges is meant to help researchers, consultants and other practitioners to structure and understand the respective situation that they try to research/find solutions to, in a better way. Further research fields and implications are suggested as well as limitations of the methodology described.