SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIES

In times of global economic instability and new dimensions of environmental and social change, the demand for sustainability sets new standards for companies dealing with logistics and supply chain management.

The intensity of the world's environmental change (particularly the effects of climate change, resulting in extreme weather events, such as local floods, hurricanes, extreme drought etc.) and the interconnected increase of social and economic volatility do threaten the integrity of supply chains in a range of ways. Single drastic events can have vast influences and lead to enormous financial and non-financial damages for companies and the overall society. Conventional solution patterns increasingly fail in the face of the rising complexity and performance challenges for the organizational and operational structure of logistics and supply chains.

Coming from a practical business perspective, managers are basically familiar with concepts of a "sustainable business". However, the majority of the applied concepts does not include the impetus from social and environmental changes, referring to the triple bottom line of sustainability, but are rather narrowly concentrated on single business solutions. Furthermore, they are always accompanied by a social and psychological ''license to operate,'' i.e., the activities of a company are based on a broad societal acceptance and legal compliance.

A strategy is unique for an organization. Sustainability strategies of companies are often fundamentally based on societal rules or legislation. Some companies are predominantly disclosing their legitimation issues in the annual reports to legitimize themselves to society, to employees, and to their stakeholders. Sustainability strategies can help a company to develop a distinctive image. Moreover, they can trigger the whole understanding of business and will then require a change in predominant mindsets and mental models. Or, sustainability strategies help organizations to reflect their relation with other parts of society, particularly with regard to the inconsistencies within the economic system (profit orientation versus common welfare).

We can assume that for each company there are specific ways to enter the debate on sustainability. Ideally, sustainability strategies will help to establish sustainable business models that are economically beneficial, too.