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Keywords:

  • corporate sustainability;
  • sustainable development;
  • strategic management;
  • business ethics;
  • ESG criteria;
  • governance;
  • ordonomics

ABSTRACT

This paper addresses a fundamental problem in corporate sustainability: How can corporations transform trade-offs through win–win-oriented governance strategies aimed at creating value? Drawing on new strands of research in business ethics, we employ an ‘ordonomic’ perspective and proceed in four steps. First, we sketch how sustainability semantics has evolved historically from a societal searchlight to a heuristics for business practice. Second, we discuss how business firms can make strategic use of moral commitments as governance contributions by deploying individual or collective self-commitments as well as commitment services in their stakeholder relations. Third, we combine these four governance strategies with the three ESG (‘ecological, social and governance’) criteria of sustainability. We derive and illustrate with real-life examples a 12-box matrix as a tool for the strategic management of corporate sustainability. Fourth, we discuss the specific contribution of our ordonomic approach to the literature. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment