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An integrated management systems approach to corporate sustainability

Muhammad Asif (School of Management and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands)
Cory Searcy (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Ambika Zutshi (School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)
Niaz Ahmad (National Textile University, Faisalabad, Pakistan)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




This paper seeks to describe an integrated management systems (IMS) approach for the integration of corporate sustainability into business processes.


An extensive review of published literature was conducted. Building on existing research, the paper presents an original framework for structuring the integration of corporate sustainability with existing business infrastructure. The framework is supported by a detailed set of diagnostic questions to help guide the process. Both the framework and the diagnostic questions are based on the “Plan‐Do‐Check‐Act” cycle of continuous improvement.


The paper highlights the need for a systematic means to integrate sustainability into business processes. Building on that point, the paper illustrates how an IMS approach can be used to structure the entire process of managing, measuring, and assessing progress towards corporate sustainability.

Practical implications

The paper should be of interest to both practitioners and researchers. The framework and diagnostic questions will help guide decision makers through the process of building sustainability into their core business infrastructure. Since the framework and diagnostic questions provide the flexibility to accommodate specific organizational contexts, it is anticipated that they will have wide applicability.


The paper makes several contributions. The framework provides a systematic approach to corporate sustainability that has not been elaborated on in previous publications. The unique set of diagnostic questions provides a means to evaluate the extent to which corporate sustainability has been integrated into an organization.



Asif, M., Searcy, C., Zutshi, A. and Ahmad, N. (2011), "An integrated management systems approach to corporate sustainability", European Business Review, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 353-367.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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