Corporate culture on sustainability

In my last blog I related culture to sustainability. In the april 2019 edition of the Journal of Cleaner Production there is an interesting article about corporate culture and corporate sustainability by Islam et al. (2019). In this article corporate culture is seen as an essential attribute to improve corporate sustainability performance.

Sustainability issues are often multidimensional and cannot only be managed through logic. Also cultural aspects play a role. Improving the sustainability performance of a firm requires innovations. These innovations can only be successful when cultural changes within the firm can take place.

In the article a hierarchical framework is proposed that relates corporate culture to corporate sustainability performance (see figure 1).  


The authors show in their article that the framework can be used for management and measuring performance.

For me the proposed framework is a useful perspective that can help in understanding the very difficult concepts of culture and sustainability and how they can relate. A flexible corporate culture that can create and implement sustainable innovations is an inspiring idea, where the framework can help in a better understanding what aspects can play a role.

Inspiring ideas can be important to create new innovations for a better society and a sustainability oriented corporate culture. We must however be aware that ‘society’ and ‘culture’ are not leading us, but that we have foremost an individual role. Like Margeret Thatcher (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990) once said: “there is no such thing as society”. In that sense there is no such thing as a (corporate) culture, but there are only behaviours. This means that we need to transform inspiring ideas into behaviour to create the innovations needed for a better society.

Norbert Bol


Islam, M. S., Tseng, M. L., & Karia, N. (2019). Assessment of corporate culture in sustainability performance using a hierarchical framework and interdependence relationsJournal of Cleaner Production.

Photo on



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s