The facets of the sustainability paradox

Daniela Argento, Laura Broccardo, Elisa Truant

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review

7 Citeringar (Scopus)
35 Nedladdningar (Pure)


Purpose – This paper aims to examine why the sustainability paradox exists and how it unfolds by focusing on intraorganizational dynamics. It explores how organizational actors perceive and make sense of sustainability and thereby contribute to the sustainability paradox. 

Design/methodology/approach – In a case study on IREN, an Italian listed multi-utility with considerable engagements with sustainability, data collection through interviews, e-mails and document analysis revealed contradictions raised by directors and middle managers. Findings were analyzed by iterating with the literature used to frame this study, which combines organizational sensemaking, paradoxes and management control. 

Findings – The sustainability paradox comprises various facets. Directors and middle managers interpret sustainability differently depending on their role within the organization and their perceptions of the concept itself. Different interpretations thus occur within and across organizational levels and functions, impacting how sustainability is implemented and monitored. The use of parallel management control systems (MCSs) reflects multiple and fragmented sensemaking, which explains the facets of the sustainability paradox. 

Research limitations/implications – Although this work illuminates the role played by individuals at top- and middle-management organizational levels and MCSs in relation to the sustainability paradox, more research is needed on how individuals make sense of sustainability at the lowest organizational levels. 

Practical implications – Organizations claiming commitment to sustainability must establish communication forms on the practicalities of sustainability throughout the organization to stimulate shared sensemaking and the design and use of inclusive MCSs. 

Originality/value –This paper explains why and how organizations unconsciously enact various facets of the sustainability paradox.

Sidor (från-till)26-48
Antal sidor23
TidskriftMeditari Accountancy Research
StatusPublicerad - 2022-feb.-17

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Företagsekonomi (50202)


Fördjupa i forskningsämnen för ”The facets of the sustainability paradox”. Tillsammans bildar de ett unikt fingeravtryck.

Citera det här