To read this content please select one of the options below:

Sustainable development in an industrial enterprise: the case of Ontario Hydro

Nigel John Roome (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Ronald Bergin (Office of the Auditor General, Ottawa, Canada)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 1 November 2006




This paper seeks to present a longitudinal case study of Ontario Hydro – an industrial organization that used sustainable development as the basis for a strategy of social and organizational transformation.


The paper describes the complex factors that influenced the formulation and implementation of this strategy.


The findings indicate the advanced ambition and authenticity of Ontario Hydro's strategy, even though it was formulated some ten years ago. The study suggests that the strategy was abandoned for reasons that include the gap between the processes identified in the strategy and the processes followed in practice, the absence of platforms to discuss and agree the meaning and practice of sustainable development within the company and its wider system, and the scarcity of skills to facilitate sustainable development as a process of multi‐actor innovation. Consequently, the concept of sustainable development was not translated into practices that had shared meaning for the many actors involved in the energy system of Ontario. While based on a case study of one organization, the findings appear to speak to more general issues of sustainable development as the management of organizational and contextual change.

Practical implications

The paper indicates much about the process of organizational change to effect more sustainable practices within a company and its social context.


No other organization has pursued a strategy for sustainable development with the same claim to authenticity as that of Ontario Hydro, where the strategy was cross‐referenced to Agenda 21 and developed with input from some of the main architects of Agenda 21. Moreover, few studies of sustainable development in the literature span a period as long as this case.



Roome, N.J. and Bergin, R. (2006), "Sustainable development in an industrial enterprise: the case of Ontario Hydro", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 696-721.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles