Findings from the 2011 Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study and Research Project

For the third consecutive year, MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group have conducted a survey of managers and executives from companies around the world, asking how they are developing and implementing sustainable business practices. 

More than 4,000 managers from 113 countries responded to the survey.  According to the respondents, 70% of companies have placed sustainability permanently on their management agendas.  Two-thirds of the resondents said that sustainability was necessary to be competitive in the marketplace.  And, many companies are increasing their commitments to sustainability inititiaves despite a lackluster economy.

On the other hand, respondents indicate that sustainability ranks eighth in importance among other management agenda items.  Economic growth continues to deplete the planet's stocks of natural capital, despite the efforts of many companies to minimize their impacts, decrease their carbon footprints, and cultivate closed-loop production systems.

The authors believe that these mixed results are overall positive, however.  They suggest that the sustainability movement is nearing a tipping point, at which a substantial portion of companies are seeing sustainable business practices as a necessity and are also deriving a financial benefit from sustainable activities.  Leading the charge are a group of organizations that are not merely implementing individual initiatives -- such as lowering carbon emissions and investing in renewables -- but are also changing their operating frameworks and strategies.  The report explores what sets these organizations apart and lessons that other organizations can take from these innovators.

Download the report here.