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Wilfrid Laurier University School of Business & Economics
July 2, 2015

Canadian Excellence


School of Business & Economics

Three Conceptions of Triple Bottom Line Business Sustainability and the Role for HRM

Barry A. Colbert & Elizabeth C. Kurucz

published: 2007 | Research publication | Refereed Journals - Policy

Colbert, B.A., & Kurucz, E.C. (2007). "Three Conceptions of Triple Bottom Line Business Sustainability and the Role for HRM", HR. Human Resource Planning 30 (1), 21-29.

ABSTRACT: Business firms are placing increasing emphasis on their ongoing "sustainability," which implies a simultaneous focus on economic, social, and environmental performance. A growing majority of organizations have embraced triple bottom line public reporting, alternately termed corporate responsibility or sustainability reporting, and many vie for industry, national, and international honors awarded to the world's "most sustainable" firms. In this article we describe research in which we entered three firms that had publicly embraced a triple bottom line framework, and were recognized as leaders in sustainability in their respective industries. There we conducted in-depth interviews with 66 business leaders, from chief executives to line managers, to capture and describe their conceptions of sustainability. Through thematic and conceptual analysis of the interview data, we present and describe three conceptions of triple bottom line sustainability at work, and outline the implications of each for key human resource management processes.

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revised Sep 24/07

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