Alignment of Organizational Competence for Sustainability With Dimensions of the Triple Bottom Line

Alignment of Organizational Competence for Sustainability With Dimensions of the Triple Bottom Line

Marco Antonio Batista da Silva (Universidade Nove de Julho, Brazil), Priscila Rezende da Costa (Universidade Nove de Julho, Brazil) and Cláudia Terezinha Kniess (Universidade São Judas Tadeu, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9885-5.ch005


This chapter aims to describe how the alignment of organizational competencies with the dimensions of the triple bottom line (TBL) in companies of the Brazilian chemical sector are integrated in the business strategy. This study used a methodological approach to qualitative research, the multiple case study strategy, covering three major producing companies in the Brazilian chemical industry: Braskem, Solvay, and Beta (fictitious name). As regards the scale interactions of organizational competence between the environmental pillars, economic, and social TBL, the analysis was done taking as a basis the properties of eco-efficiency, environmental justice, and social justice. Besides the three skills characterized by TBL interaction model for sustainable development, the competence of eco-innovation was evident, with the internal factors that influence: strategic dimension of eco-innovation, collaboration networks, support of management leadership and top management.
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Organizations are inserted in a context of social, economic, political and technological changes that affect the dynamics of their competitive environment. The interest of society, governments and organizations on the topic of sustainability is growing. This theme is present on the global problems agenda, presenting as discussions on climate change, scarcity of non-renewable resources, Human Development Index (HDI), and sustainable consumption, etc. Over the years, studies have been developed that focus on sustainability, emphasizing the complementarity of businesses and sustainable practices.

One of the challenges for industrial organizations is to demonstrate how they are decreasing their environmental and social impacts without compromising their economic sustainability (Demajorovic, 2003). Among these organizations is the chemical industry in Brazil, which maintains an important role. In 2016, occupying third place in the development of the Brazilian industrial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, in 2015, eighth place in terms of net sales in the world (ABIQUM, 2017). Although this industry develops essential products for humanity, chemical production has generated discussions regarding its role in relation to sustainability, primarily due to problems caused by the formation of toxic by-products, contamination of the environment, and risks presented by products and processes that generate volumes of toxic effluents. Thus, the sustainability theme has been highlighted in the chemical industry. (Prado, 2003; Ferreira, et al., 2013; ABIQUIM, 2017)

Some challenges and dilemmas present as specific to the chemical industry, regarding the development of a sustainability strategy: hazardousness of chemicals, climate change, greenhouse gases, water and energy consumption, use of non-renewable raw materials, post-consumption and strengthening of relationships. In view of these challenges, the adoption of sustainability by the chemical industries can be a great opportunity for the development of the sector (Soto, 2012).

Van Kleef and Roome (2007) understood organizational competence as the ability to collaborate and innovate for sustainability based on the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions while maintaining competitiveness, ultimately delivering value to the customer and other stakeholders.

When analyzing competencies at the organizational level, Munck and Borim-de-Souza (2012a) stated that sustainability can be achieved through the logic of competences. This is so that the development of competences by the organization can result in benefits in the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) dimensions, as the actions of organizations in the debate on sustainability seeks to develop new management methods and practices that contribute to systemic sustainable development.

Rapid mobilization of competencies in response to environmental changes that affect the company's business, characterized by dynamic capacity that constitutes the ability to integrate, build and reconfigure internal and external competencies to quickly respond to environmental changes and developing innovative forms of competitive advantage (Teece, et al., 1992), is in line with sustainability as studied by Amui et al. (2017). This shows that studies on this topic have been developed more thoroughly in developed countries. The study also showed that the topic has been arousing interest in the European, American, Asian and Oceania continents. With a concentration of studies on the European continent, this demonstrates a gap in terms of research developed in the context in Latin America. Among the sectors studied, manufacturing has aroused greater interest than that of other services.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reactive Approach: Organizational actions based on the difference between the expected and the achieved result, not focusing on the link between the strategic objectives of the organization.

Triple Bottom Line: Model that characterizes sustainability through the interaction between three dimensions: economic, social, and environmental.

Social Justice: Integration of the social and economic dimensions of sustainability, characterized by an ethical performance not only of a company, but of an entire industry both in the market in which the product or service is produced as in what is used.

Eco-Innovation: Innovation of goods and/or services as well as in production, exploration, production, management or business processes that seeks to reduce both environmental risks and the use of natural resources.

Proactive Approach: Organizational actions based on the determination of the necessary competences to the important changes that occur in the organization, in order to answer the fundamental requirements for developing competitive advantage for the organization.

Organizational Competence for Sustainability: Effective organizational action supported by human, physical and organizational resources that provide return to the organization, adding social value to individuals, without compromising the environment.

Environmental Justice: Balanced action between the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability, associated with intra and intergenerational equity, seeking to balance the advantages between present and future generation.

Eco-Efficiency: Balanced action of the economic and social pillars of sustainability through the pursuit of economic prosperity through more efficient use of resources and reduction of environmental degradation.

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