Strategies and Practices for Sustainability

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Quality Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden

John Holmberg
Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden

Ulrika Lundqvist
Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden

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Ingår i: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:80, s.

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Publicerad: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


The four system conditions for sustainability presented in Holmberg’s Ph.D. dissertation (1995) provided a foundation for the approach used by the ‘Natural Step’ both in Sweden and in several other countries (e.g. Holmberg & Robert 2000). In the 1990s Holmberg& Robert developed a ‘backcasting’ approach to strategy development in companies and was involved in several projects to introduce sustainability defined by these four system conditions. This work had a considerable impact in several firms. Electrolux established an environmental policy and a direct effect of backcasting was a decision to develop the first CFC free refrigerators; which put the company far ahead of their competitors. This is just one example that illustrates how this approach has a potential to stimulate new directions; which would not happen based on a more traditional trend-based analysis.

Although these projects have been showing good results; several firms have lost their focus for working with sustainability after some time. So the question remained – how can sustainability become a natural part of strategy processes and practices in companies? An action research project was initiated in 2004 to focus on this question at three large Swedish corporations. The project aim was to further develop the backcasting approach in the context of sustainable development and to present recommendations for the process of implementation of the approach at companies (Lundqvist et al. 2006).

This paper discusses alternative ways of using and integrating the sustainability concept and approaches/practices in firms.


Sustainability; corporate strategy; change process; backcasting; scenario


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