The collective business case of sustainability: when does it pay to be sustainable?

Frank Figge, Andrea Stevenson Thorpe, Melissa Gutberlet, Siarhei Manzhynski

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


The business case of sustainability is a popular explanation for the motivation of companies to contribute to sustainability. From this perspective companies will contribute to sustainability if it is directly advantageous to them. Unfortunately, many sustainability problems we face are ‘common goods’; solving these problems would benefit all, while the costs are incurred by individual companies. Consequently, the business case as it is known today does not incentivize companies to address these problems. Using a lens of evolution theory, we develop the collective business case and show, counter-intuitively, that it can be economically rational for companies to contribute to common good sustainability problems even at a net cost to the company.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes
Event83rd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management - Boston, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20238 Aug 2023


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