Bridging the gap between sustainability strategy formulation and implementation

Formulating a sustainability strategy can be a challenging task. Implementing the strategy in an organization is even a bigger challenge.  Implementing a sustainability strategy is even very demanding if there is a clear vision of sustainability, the sustainability strategy is clearly formulated and there is considerable willingness to engage in further action on sustainability implementation.

Successful implementation factors that need to be well aligned with the sustainability strategy are: organizational structure, organizational culture, leadership, management control and employee motivation and qualifications. Engert & Baumgartner (2016) have added communication (internal and external) as a new factor relevant for a successful implementation of sustainability strategies. Communication not only refers to the formal communication such as sustainability reports, but it is also about how a company engages in various forms of dialogue with different stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, suppliers, students, NGO’s and political groups.

In my opinion these dialogues about sustainability with all these different stakeholders are great to manage expectations, risks and opportunities (innovations). Perhaps managers should wonder if there are enough dialogues going on about the corporate sustainability strategy or perhaps formulated in a different way: are there enough dialogues about the business to be really sustainable?

Bridging the gap between sustainability strategy formulation and implementation is in my opinion to have a true dialogue with your stakeholders in what you are doing and what you want to achieve.

Norbert Bol


Engert, S., & Baumgartner, R. J. (2016). Corporate sustainability strategy–bridging the gap between formulation and implementation. Journal of Cleaner Production.


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