Paradoxical tensions in business sustainability: How corporations develop sustainable ventures

Thijs Geradts, Justin Jansen

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


In order to achieve business sustainability, multinational corporations are challenged to meet both their and other's short- and long-term needs by developing incremental improvements and radical new solutions to address grand challenges. In order to achieve such a balance successfully, we argue that corporations need to enact multiple paradoxical tensions at the same time. While scholars have traditionally considered tensions between exploration and exploitation in new product development more generally, we identify four additional paradoxical tensions that are specific to the context of corporate sustainability. Through an illustrative case example, we show that initiating sustainable ventures requires multinational corporations to consider multiple strategic objectives, to create value in the short- and long-term, to achieve standardization and local adaptation, and to take into account one's own and collective interests. To address these paradoxical tensions, we find that corporations implement comprehensive approaches that enable them to resolve paradoxical challenges and lead to better sustainability solutions and superior financial performance. We believe that the paradoxical tensions and managerial practices identified in this chapter serve as a springboard for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on the Business of Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationThe Organization, Implementation, and Practice of Sustainable Growth
Editorsgerard george, Martine Haas, Havovi Joshi, Anita McGahan, Paul Tracey
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781839105340
ISBN (Print)9781839105333
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2022


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