Sustaining sustainability: determining the most effective organizational culture

Lenore K. Pennington, Elizabeth More

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperpeer-review


Increasingly, organizations are expected to improve their ecological and environmental performance and to contribute to local and global communities. Adopting more sustainable practices which minimise harm requires organizations to examine and transform the underlying values and beliefs which drove their environmentally and socially unsustainable strategies and practices. Some research concludes that sustainable organizations cultivate a consistent, clearly articulated and shared organizational culture and have non-negotiable core values. However, little research has been undertaken to understand the contribution of culture to organizations’ commitment to sustainability, or the nature of that culture. The aim of this paper is to determine the research approach for identifying the cultural characteristics of sustainable organizations. A number of potential cultural dimensions have been drawn from the sustainability literature, and compared with those dimensions identified by established culture survey instruments. It is argued that while some of these survey instruments successfully determine the culture underpinning organizations’ effectiveness, and the strength of those cultures, they do not adequately address the specific proposed cultural dimensions of sustainable organizations. The implications for a comprehensive study of sustainable organizational culture are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-492
Number of pages14
JournalThe 2011 Barcelona European Academic Conference : program & proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventBarcelona European Academic Conference 2011 - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 6 Jun 20119 Jun 2011


  • culture surveys
  • organizational culture
  • organizational sustainability
  • values


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