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The integration of sustainability and externalities into the “corporate DNA”: a practice-oriented approach

Juliana Walkiewicz (Section of Management in the International Food Industry, University of Kassel , Witzenhausen, Germany and Innovation Center Network – Academic Partnerships, SAP SE, Walldorf-Wiesloch, Germany)
Jenny Lay-Kumar (Department of Research, Regionalwert Corporation Freiburg, Eichstetten, Germany)
Christian Herzig (Section of Management in the International Food Industry, University of Kassel , Witzenhausen, Germany)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 1 November 2020

Issue publication date: 8 June 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a methodology to establish and integrate formal sustainability control systems (SCS) into management control systems (MCSs). The innovative approach aims at contributing to the need for SCS integration by permeating and transforming MCSs so that positive and negative externalities can be internalized into the financial performance measurement and reporting.

Design/methodology/approach

In an exploratory process, control systems were closely connected with financial accounting within four interrelated – ecologic, social, financial and knowledge-related – dimensions. Building on the action design research, multicriteria key performance indicators (KPI) for these dimensions were developed. Four value-based small and medium-sized enterprises of the food sector developed KPIs in interactive and participative workshops and interconnected their own business model with their sustainability principles. Constantly revising conformity, specific S.M.A.R.T. goals and related activities were defined, thereafter being used for KPI measures and for input in financial accounting.

Findings

The workshop series reveals the importance of including relevant stakeholders, multiple feedback loops and permanent dialogue to abolish cognitive barriers. The approach enables the development of multicriterial KPIs and identification of costs and benefits for an integrated financial accounting.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to practice and research in the field of SCS by providing insights into the process of an explorative workshop series developing multicriteria KPIs for controlling and financial accounting.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This case study was conducted in the context of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, which ends in 2021. The project is conducted within the context of the initiative INQA (Initiative New Quality of Work) and professionally supported by the German Federal Office for Occupational Health and Safety. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funder or project members.

Citation

Walkiewicz, J., Lay-Kumar, J. and Herzig, C. (2021), "The integration of sustainability and externalities into the “corporate DNA”: a practice-oriented approach", Corporate Governance, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 479-496. https://doi.org/10.1108/CG-06-2020-0244

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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