Is Sustainable Development Sustainable? The Impact of the Interdependence of Cognitive, Organizational, Societal, And Economic Components

By Jacques Lewkowicz, Pascal Koeberlé

This article proposes a new typology of organizational configurations as a starting point for a new theory on strategic and organizational change. Four configurations are identified. Each consists of a specific set of four attributes: knowledge types, organizational forms, societal institutions and strategic maneuvers. Under the configurational approach to organizational analysis, it is assumed that these attributes have a tendency to fall into coherent patterns called configurations. Consequently, the number of empirically observable organizational configurations is limited. Moreover, although a configuration is pliable up to a point, inconsistencies between attributes indicate that a configurational change mechanism has been triggered. The tension between long-run stakeholders-oriented sustainable development and short-run shareholders-oriented value creation is one facet of any strategic maneuver. J-form configuration is the most capable of effectively engage in sustainable development practices. It is argued, however, that the specific set of attributes of the J-firm is unstable. The competitive advantage of the firm lies in the capacity of sustaining a sustainable development. JEL: L21, L22, M10


  • organizational change
  • strategy
  • J-firm
  • knowledge
  • sustainable development
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