5.5 Sustainability in Global Organizations

A deeper understanding of the sustainable model and how sustainability within a global marketplace is relevant and apparent to success will be described. First, here is a more succinct meaning of the five factors.


Cost Reduction Resource Preservation Legislative Compliance Reputation Right Initiative
Finding more efficient and sustainable means of production. Using alternative energy methods to produce products. (Moving from oil and coal to wind and solar). Adhering to the laws and regulations of home and host countries. (Following municipal, state/province, and federal laws with regard to environmental protection and human rights). Maintain a positive reputation within your home and abroad communities. This means keeping up to date with generational trends.

Ensure ethical initiatives are in place for moral good in all endeavors.

As previously mentioned, an organization can find itself in a host of challenges when maintaining a sustainable model in the global marketplace.  According to Daft, the greater complexity in the environment, the greater chance for ethical problems and misunderstandings[23]. Global organizations can find challenges in maintaining any one of the five areas and must be cognizant of this, especially within the areas of legislative compliance and reputation. Joseph W. Weiss outlines major management and ethical issues inside multi-national corporations in the forms of economic issues (cost reduction), political (legislative/reputation), technological (reputation), social and labour (legislative, reputation, right initiative), and ecological (resource preservation)[24]. Weiss also states that American companies are usually required to assist and add value to local countries. Here is a list of some of these practices[24]:

  • Hiring local labour
  • Creating new jobs
  • Developing particular industry sectors
  • Provide business and learning skills
  • Helping decrease the countries debt and improve its balance of payments and standard of living.

The goal of these sustainable practices is to maintain a positive relationship with host countries, while in turn, remain relevant and competitive in the global marketplace. The ethical implications are seen here in how to maintain sustainability through the five factors.  However, the motivation still remains unclear. An ethical understanding needs to be further explored on the psychological level in that there are companies truly willing to engage in sustainability to do good, or remain relevant in a global marketplace.  Essentially, it is the argument of doing “good for goodness” sake, or doing good for the sake of competitive advantage. Regardless of the motivation, the fact that CSR exists and the discussion of ethical frameworks have been beneficial to the advancement of organizations from the industrial revolution to modern times. Within these modern times it is important to understand the ethical frameworks in different countries. The USA, Brazil, United Kingdom, and Canada have similar forms of law reflecting similar forms of guidelines for running a business in a free-market economy[25]. The understanding of different globalized chains with regard to ethical implications is important for a 21st century leader.

This also applies to learning organizations and how ethics is found within them. The freedom to pursue learning, especially in a global environment, is paramount to the success of the learners and leaders within the school. Many educational have been practicing a sustainable model: a model of “think globally and act locally” where leaders use broad globalized concepts and bring them to a community level where their institution is held. Enhancing more sustainable practices starts beyond the organization, it starts in society with pro-environmental leadership in society[26], and pragmatic results to installing sustainability models in organizations and society[27]. This are beneficial, community steps to tackling a larger global issue.

Review Questions:

  1. What are the five factors of sustainability in a global marketplace?
  2. What are five practices Joseph Weiss outlines that American companies should do when expanding their corporations in other countries?
  3. How do the practices of global sustainability relate to the learning organization?


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Leadership and Management in Learning Organizations Copyright © by Clayton Smith; Carson Babich; and Mark Lubrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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