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Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4137;

Company Risk Management in Light of the Sustainability Transition

Department of Strategic Sustainable Development, Blekinge Institute of Technology, SE-37179 Karlskrona, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 21 October 2018 / Accepted: 7 November 2018 / Published: 10 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Leading Sustainability Transitions)
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Many of the most important business and economic risks are directly linked to environmental and social issues. This includes both threats and opportunities, not only in relation to reputation, which is often mentioned in this context, but, even more importantly, in relation to innovation capability and legislative change on inevitably more and more sustainability-driven markets. It is, however, unclear through which mechanisms such sustainability risks currently affect companies and how they can be systematically identified and managed. Based on the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, this study investigates the dynamics and implications of society’s sustainability transition from a company risk management perspective. In addition, exploratory and descriptive studies were conducted at two large product innovation companies to identify current risk management practices and preconditions for sustainability integration. The results reveal that a society moving closer towards a collapse of environmental and social systems leads to increasing sustainability-related threats for unsustainable businesses and increasing opportunities for sustainable businesses. Also, risk management is found to be a promising way for maneuvering in a smart zone between being too passive and being too pro-active in relation to sustainable innovation. The study participants at the case companies were knowledgeable about risk management in general but were largely unfamiliar with risks associated with sustainability and no processes or support tools exist to work systematically with such risks. Key steps to accomplishing an integration of a strategic sustainability perspective into risk management are proposed as: (i) identifying the effects of sustainability issues on internal and external stakeholder value; (ii) actively including sustainability in objective setting and cascading objectives across the levels of the organizational hierarchy; and (iii) developing concrete support for identifying, assessing, and managing economic sustainability risks. Thereby, companies can enhance their competitiveness while providing leadership in the sustainability transition. View Full-Text
Keywords: risk management; sustainability; product innovation; strategic sustainable development; sustainable product development; sustainability transitions risk management; sustainability; product innovation; strategic sustainable development; sustainable product development; sustainability transitions

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Schulte, J.; Hallstedt, S.I. Company Risk Management in Light of the Sustainability Transition. Sustainability 2018, 10, 4137.

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