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Different stages of business sustainability: a visual metaphor

Vimal Kumar Eswarlal (Operations and Information Management Group, Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Martina Vallesi (Department of Management, Faculty of Economics, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy)

Management Research

ISSN: 1536-5433

Article publication date: 17 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explain the different stages of business sustainability through a visual metaphor. This metaphor compares the interaction between the different variables of sustainability to the interaction between the colour wheels in the Interconnected Spinning colour wheel. As a result of this comparison, we propose the different stages of business sustainability.


Domains-interaction model approach is used to develop the metaphor.


The four stages of the business sustainability system resulting from this metaphor are: designable, feasible, endurable and responsible.

Research limitations

We recognize that a visual metaphor provides only a limited insight, which is a general drawback of a metaphor.

Practical implications

This visual metaphor as a tool will help practitioners, students and academics to easily understand the concept of business sustainability and the various stages of the system. This new perspective can support the practitioners in making effective decisions for sustainability.


This paper contributes in the field of corporate sustainability through the novel visual metaphor proposed. This metaphor can enhance the theoretical development in this field by approaching the concept of corporate sustainability from a different perspective.



The authors like to immensely thank Miss Francesca Casciotti for her support in producing the computerized images and Dr Luciana Akemi Iwasa, Dr Roberto Alamino and Mr Mauro Tiberi for their help in translating the abstract in Portuguese and Spanish. We also like to thank anonymous reviewers and the editors for their valuable suggestions to improve this paper.


Eswarlal, V.K. and Vallesi, M. (2014), "Different stages of business sustainability: a visual metaphor", Management Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 308-325.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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