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Making sustainable development sustainable

Güler Aras (Institute of Social Science, Yildiz Technical University, Turkey)
David Crowther (Leicester Business School, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 19 June 2009




Although all organisations claim to be engaged in sustainable development, research shows that they misunderstand what is involved. This paper aims to reconsider what is meant by sustainability and to show that the way accounting operates in an organisation actually prevents an organisation from recognising sustainable operations.


The paper develops a theoretical argument that sustainability depends upon a redefinition of efficiency and shows the problems with the current descriptions of organisational activity.


The paper shows that efficiency is not demonstrated through cost cutting but through recognising value‐creating activities, and that sustainability cannot be achieved without a consideration of the distribution of the effects of organisational activity.

Research limitations/implications

The research shows a different model of sustainability which highlights key aspects that are not normally included; it thereby points the way towards further research possibilities.

Practical implications

An understanding of the key aspects of sustainability will help an organisation in its strategic decision making.


The paper presents a different approach to managing sustainability and also shows the relationship between corporate sustainability and corporate accounting, an area which is normally excluded from the discourse.



Aras, G. and Crowther, D. (2009), "Making sustainable development sustainable", Management Decision, Vol. 47 No. 6, pp. 975-988.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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