Unsustainable development to sustainable development: a conceptual model

N. Mohan Das Gandhi (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore, India)
V. Selladurai (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Coimbatore Institute of Technology, Coimbatore, India)
P. Santhi (Department of Commerce, Avinashilingam Deemed University, Coimbatore, India)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Publication date: 1 November 2006



Modelling of sustainable development is essential, as environmental protection is regarded as a top global priority in the twenty‐first century. The basic objective of this paper is to provide a conceptual framework, named the Four Forces model for diagnosing the process of sustainable development.


Michael Porter's Five Forces model serves as a starting‐point to derive the Four Forces model. The Four Forces model, which is developed based on Back Casting technique, shows the transformation process from current unsustainable development to future sustainable development through environmental degradation, greening force and greening process. These five major components are related based on cause and effect.


The paper reveals that a clear understanding of the transformation process and their integration is necessary for successful implementation of sustainable development projects, as the transformation is a continuous process. The Four Forces model is a generic and contribute towards a richer understanding of sustainable development process.

Research limitations/implications

The suggested conceptual model provides a holistic view of sustainable development and does not attempt to provide a detailed, step‐by‐step approach for implementing sustainable development in industries. This paper helps to initiate future studies in this area.


In line with Michael Porter's three generic competitive strategies, this study analysis various greening strategies and greening tools and also recommends the Green Productivity as a better tool for implementing sustainable development in industries. The model can be used as a framework for further development of a practical sustainable development system in industries.



Mohan Das Gandhi, N., Selladurai, V. and Santhi, P. (2006), "Unsustainable development to sustainable development: a conceptual model", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 654-672. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777830610702502

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