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Sustainability-focused Organizational Learning: Recent Experiences and New Challenges

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To an increasing extent, corporations and smaller businesses are making explicit commitments to improved environmental and social performance. Some have embraced the goal of sustainability, and some prefer to use the term 'triple bottom line'--a balance of financial, social and ecological performance--in their operations. Some companies are experimenting with organizational learning as a means to accelerate the transition to sustainability or the triple bottom line. This fledgling combination--sustainability and organizational learning--is the focus of this paper. The term 'sustain ability-focused organizational learning' (SFOL) is proposed to describe the early experience of companies that are attempting to pursue sustainability or the triple bottom line while making substantial changes to their organizational cultures. In many instances, these changes involve the use of experimental or unconventional learning techniques. Some companies are combining their SFOL efforts with The Natural Step, a sustainability framework. The experience of five companies pursuing SFOL is summarized and analysed in a non-identifying way, and key preliminary lessons are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Consultant, specializing in sustainability and organizational learning, British Columbia, Canada Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada. Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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