Managing the Tensions at the Intersection of the Triple Bottom Line: A Paradox Theory Approach to Sustainability Management

Lucie K. Ozanne, Marcus Phipps, Todd Weaver, Michal Carrington, Michael Luchs, Jesse Catlin, Shipra Gupta, Nicholas Santos, Kristin Scott, and Jerome Williams
Article Snapshot
Current average rating    
Key Takeaways

​Organizations pursuing the triple bottom line are prone to paradoxical tensions.

Public policy can accentuate those tensions, making them more salient.

Salient tensions can spur beneficial organizational responses.

​Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing​

This paper seeks to explore the tensions frequently faced by organizations that strive to manage the dimensions of corporate sustainability and the role of public policy in that pursuit.


Research

The article specifically examines three facets of corporate sustainability: (1) What are the tensions that frequently emerge at the intersection of the triple bottom line? (2) How might the public policy context make these tensions more salient? and (3) How do organizations respond effectively to these paradoxical tensions? 

Method

A multiple-case-study approach was utilized, in which we selected case organizations on the basis of whether they were attempting to manage the three dimensions of sustainability. We draw from paradox theory to understand the nature of the tensions that emerge in our case study organizations.

Findings

This article makes three key contributions. (1) We outline the belonging, performing, organizing, and learning tensions that emerge at the intersection of the triple bottom line. (2) We illustrate how the public policy environment makes these tensions salient by creating conditions of scarcity, change, and plurality, (3) We illustrate how organizational responses to these tensions can create a dynamic equilibrium that balances the demands of the triple bottom line over time, creating conditions of abundance, stability, and certainty.

Implications

Our study indicates that public policy plays an important role in making paradoxical tensions more salient to organizations pursuing the triple bottom line. Public policy can create contextual conditions that bring latent organizational tensions to the foreground. Our analysis indicates that public policy can help create conditions of scarcity, change, and plurality.


Questions for the Classroom

  • What are the tensions that emerge as organizations strive to manage the three dimensions of corporate sustainability?

  • How should organizations manage these tensions?

  • What role does public policy play?


Article Citation

Lucie K. Ozanne, Marcus Phipps, Todd Weaver, Michal Carrington, Michael Luchs, Jesse Catlin, Shipra Gupta, Nicholas Santos, Kristin Scott, and Jerome Williams (2016), “Managing the Tensions at the Intersection of the Triple Bottom Line: A Paradox Theory Approach to Sustainability Management,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 35 (2), 249-261.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jppm.15.143


Lucie K. Ozanne is Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Canterbury (e-mail: lucie.ozanne@canterbury.ac.nz).

Marcus Phipps is Lecturer of Marketing, University of Melbourne (e-mail: mphipps@unimelb.edu.au).

Todd Weaver is Professor of Business, Point University (e-mail: todd.weaver@point.edu).

Michal Carrington is Lecturer in Marketing, University of Melbourne (e-mail: michal.carrington@unimelb.edu.au).

Michael Luchs is Associate Professor of Marketing, Mason School of Business, College of William & Mary (e-mail: Michael.Luchs@mason.wm.edu).

Jesse Catlin is Assistant Professor of Marketing, California State University, Sacramento (e-mail: jesse.catlin@csus.edu).

Shipra Gupta is Assistant Professor of Business Administration, University of Illinois, Springfield (e-mail: shipra.gupta@uis.edu).

Nicholas Santos is Assistant Professor of Marketing, College of Business, Marquette University (e-mail: nicholas.santos@marquette.edu).

Kristin Scott is Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business, Minnesota State University, Mankato (e-mail: kristin.scott@mnsu.edu).

Jerome Williams is Provost, Rutgers University–Newark (e-mail: jeromew@rutgers.edu).


Author Bio:

 
Lucie K. Ozanne, Marcus Phipps, Todd Weaver, Michal Carrington, Michael Luchs, Jesse Catlin, Shipra Gupta, Nicholas Santos, Kristin Scott, and Jerome Williams
Add A Comment :
 

Become a Member
Access our innovative members-only resources and tools to further your marketing practice.
 

 Upcoming Conferences

 
 

 Sign-up for the AMA Journal Reader

 
Sign-up to receive Article Curations from the AMA's leading journals.


 

 Upcoming Webcasts

 
 

 Marketing News