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A Proposal for Measuring Business Sustainability: Addressing Shortcomings in Existing Frameworks
Vesela Veleva and Michael Ellenbecker
Greener Management International
No. 31 (Autumn 2000), pp. 101-120
Published by: Greenleaf Publishing
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/greemanainte.31.101
Page Count: 20
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This paper analyses four of the best-known indicator frameworks for evaluation of business sustainability. It first introduces the concept of sustainable production as defined by the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts Lowell. Next, indicators of sustainable production are discussed as a practical tool to operationalise the concept and their scope and desirable qualities are outlined. Four best-known sustainability indicator frameworks for companies are then selected and their usefulness in promoting sustainable production is evaluated. The paper argues that, regardless of the large number of sustainability indicators for companies being developed, no framework exists that is applicable as a whole to evaluate sustainable production systems. Some of the weaknesses of existing indicator frameworks include: lack of indicators to address all aspects of sustainable production (environmental, social, economic, workers and products); lack of direction/vision; use of quantitative indicators only; and lack of clear and detailed guidance for indicator application. At the same time, the paper acknowledges the strengths of existing indicator sets—using a manageable number of indicators—suggesting simple and easy-to-implement measures; providing good examples of sustainability indicators. Building on these results the paper concludes with a discussion about the importance of such indicators and the challenges facing their development and use.
© 2000 Greenleaf Publishing