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Published in: Journal of Business Ethics 2/2021

14-09-2020 | Original Paper

Reframing Business Sustainability Decision-Making with Value-Focussed Thinking

Author: Julia Benkert

Published in: Journal of Business Ethics | Issue 2/2021

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Abstract

Per definition business sustainability demands the integration of environmental, social, and economic outcomes. Yet, managerial decision-making involving sustainability objectives is fraught with tension and the way managerial decision-makers frame sustainability issues in their mindset influences how sustainability tensions are managed at the organisational level. In the bid to better understand what types of managerial mindsets, or cognitive frames, foster integrative business sustainability practices that simultaneously advance environmental, social, and economic objectives, extant research has focussed on the underlying logics that drive the acknowledgement of sustainability tensions. However, the existing logics-based constructs do not sufficiently explain this link, and it has been suggested that managers perceive and manage sustainability tensions based on the values that they hold. To clarify the roles of managerial values and logics as antecedents in business sustainability decision-making, we integrate Keeney’s value-focussed thinking approach with managerial and organisational cognition perspectives. Drawing on data from a survey with 169 senior procurement managers in Australia we found three types of cognitive frames which demonstrate that stronger sustainability values are associated with a more holistic perception of sustainability tensions and vice versa. We also found that managers’ cognitive framing of sustainability is strengthened by more holistic organisational cognitive frames and discuss according implications for managerial decision-making in theory and practice.

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Appendix
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Footnotes
1
The original text used the pronoun “he”, which we have replaced with the gender-neutral pronoun “they” to acknowledge the diversity of genders in managerial leadership positions.
 
2
The full review table of sustainability indicators has been excluded from this paper for brevity, but is available from the author upon request.
 
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Metadata
Title
Reframing Business Sustainability Decision-Making with Value-Focussed Thinking
Author
Julia Benkert
Publication date
14-09-2020
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Journal of Business Ethics / Issue 2/2021
Print ISSN: 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN: 1573-0697
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-020-04611-4

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