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Principles of Sustainable Business

Frameworks for Corporate Action on the SDGs

Paperback Engels 2022 9780367565596
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The basic function of companies is to add value to society. Profits are a means to an end, not an end in itself. The ability of companies to innovate, scale and invest provides them with a powerful base for positive change. But companies are also criticized for not contributing sufficiently to society’s grand challenges. An increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world creates serious governance gaps that not only require new ways of regulation, but also new ways of doing business.

Can companies effectively contribute to sustainable development and confront society’s systemic challenges?

Arguably the most important frame to drive this ambition was introduced and unanimously adopted in 2015: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG-agenda not only defines a holistic set of global goals and targets, but also foundational principles to guide meaningful action to their achievement by 2030. Multinational companies have signed up to the SDGs as the world’s long-term business plan. Realizing the SDGs provides a yearly $12 trillion investment and growth opportunity, while creating hundreds of millions of jobs in the process. But progress is too slow – witnessing society’s inability to deal with pressing human, ecological, economic and health crises – whilst the vast potential for societal value creation remains underutilized. This book provides a timely account of the systemic, strategic and operational challenges that need to be addressed to enhance the effectiveness of corporate involvement in society, by using the SDGs as the leading principles-based framework for actionable, powerful and transformative change.

Principles of Sustainable Business is written for graduate and postgraduate (executive) students, policymakers and business professionals who want to understand the complex challenges of global sustainability. It shows how companies can design and implement SDG-relevant strategies at three levels: the macro level, to assess whether the SDGs present wicked problems or opportunities; the micro level, to develop and operationalize innovative business models, design new business cases and navigate organizational transition trajectories; and the meso level, to develop fit-for-purpose cross-sector partnering strategies. Principles of Sustainable Business presents innovative tools embedded in a coherent sequence of analytical frameworks that can be applied in courses for students, be put into practice by business professionals and used by action researchers to help companies contribute to the Decade of Action.

'The SDGs provide a moral framework at the time the world needs it most. It is also the world’s best long-term business plan. It’s the unlock to what is the growth story of our century, putting people and the planet first. But the implementation is in need of a ‘booster shot’. Principles of Sustainable Business presents state-of-the-art science-based answers on how to achieve this ambition in the Decade of Action. The detailed elaborations of business models, transition trajectories and partnering strategies provide actionable targets for companies that want to drive systems change.' - Paul Polman, Former CEO Unilever, Co-chair and founder IMAGINE, Vice Chair UN Global Compact

The Decade of Action needs serious acceleration. The intentions are still there, but the realization requires sophisticated approaches of governments, civil society and companies alike. The frameworks offered by this all-encompassing book provide the badly needed road map for the coming years. A truly amazing achievement! - Prof. dr. Jan Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, chair Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition

Principles of Sustainable Business of Rob van Tulder and Eveline van Mil describes in depth why and how businesses should and can be purposeful by creating economic, societal and ecological value at the same time. The authors recognize the importance of how frontrunner companies in the past have been able to break through a number of the critical tipping points to uplift sustainability and contribute to systems change. Sustainability should be anchored in the core of the business and the SDGs could provide a very relevant framework for companies to define where to contribute. The frameworks developed in this book make it possible for (aspiring) leaders to ‘walk the talk’. - Feike Sijbesma, former CEO DSM, Chair Supervisory Board Philips, member Supervisory Board Unilever


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Over Rob van Tulder

Rob van Tulder is hoogleraar International Business aan de Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus Universiteit. Hij is medeoprichter van de vakgroep Business-Society Management en oprichter en wetenschappelijk directeur van het Partnerships Resource Centre. Hij schreef meer dan 20 boeken over duurzame ontwikkeling, transitiemanagement, International Business, multinationals en (internationaal) verantwoord ondernemen. Twee keer eerder werd een van zijn boeken in Nederland ‘short-listed’ als Managementboek van het Jaar. Hij is als onafhankelijk adviseur betrokken bij ondernemingen, overheden, internationale organisaties en NGO's.

Andere boeken door Rob van Tulder

Over Eveline van Mil

Eveline van Mil is strategisch adviseur voor (semi-)publieke, private en non-profit organisaties op het gebied van 'maatschappelijk interface management'. Haar onderzoeksprojecten en praktijkervaring beslaan een breed scala van maatschappelijk georiënteerde en opgavegerichte thema’s, reikend van 'wicked problems', transitietheorie en (multi-)stakeholder management, tot de 'resource curse', duurzame productie en consumptie, en sector regulering.

Andere boeken door Eveline van Mil


1 Why now? A necessary frame for grand societal challenges
2 Why not? Understanding the potential of the SDGs
3 Why slow? Conditions for realizing the SDGs

4 What if? The SDGs as wicked problems
5 What and who? The SDGs as wicked opportunities
6 Who? The governance challenge

7 Making it resilient – dealing with triggering events
8 Making it strategic – business cases for sustainability
9 Making it material – designing sustainable business models
10 Making it powerful – using power as a force for positive change
11 Making it functional – the internal alignment challenge
12 Making it collaborative – the partnership challenge

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