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Sabaf: moving to a learning environment

Nigel Roome (Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Gent, Belgium)
Céline Louche (Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Gent, Belgium)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




Sabaf, a world‐leading manufacturer of components for domestic gas cooking appliances, went through a transformation process between 1993 and 2005 to develop a strategic approach to corporate responsibility that embedded social, environmental and governance issues into its organisation, its approach to business and its overall performance. This case describes the learning and change process within the company that set the ground for today's success.


This teaching case builds on data gathered through sites visits, interviews and company materials. The case research protocol explored the notion that the company was learning how to interact, and respond to its changing context, while its responses were creating the ground for internal organisational change that in turn would impact the relationship between the company and its context.


While on the surface the change process which Sabaf experienced can be regarded as a move from an implicit to a more explicit approach to corporate responsibility, it is also possible to take the view that the company was engaged in developing a more “humanistic” approach to management that permeated the whole organization. What became explicit at Sabaf was not corporate responsibility but rather the term “corporate responsibility” used to describe much older concepts of business that valued people and the natural environment alongside economics. The case also shows the process of organizational leadership for learning, management innovation and change that supported the processes through which this approach was developed and integrated into the company.


This case provides unique insights into the approach Sabaf adopted in its pioneering transformation to become a leading corporate responsibility company and a world leader in its sector. This case can be used as a benchmark for other companies that might embark on the process of integrating corporate responsibility and business performance as a strategic process that has effects that cut across the business as a whole.



Roome, N. and Louche, C. (2011), "Sabaf: moving to a learning environment", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 30 No. 10, pp. 1049-1066.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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