On the role of faith in sustainability management: A conceptual model and research agenda
Journal of Business Ethics
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The objective of this article is to develop a faith development perspective on corporate sustainability. A firm’s management of sustainability is arguably determined by the way decision-makers relate to the other and the natural environment, and this relationship is fundamentally shaped by faith. This study advances theoretical understanding of the approach managers take on sustainability issues by explaining how four distinct phases of faith development – improvidence, obedience, irreverence and providence – determine a manager’s disposition towards sustainability. Combining insights from intentional and relational faith development theories, the analysis contends that a manager’s faith disposition can be measured according to four interrelated process criteria: (1) connectivity as a measure of a manager’s actual engagement and activities aimed at relating to sustainability; (2) inclusivity as a measure of who and what is included or excluded in a manager’s moral consideration; (3) emotional affinity as a measure of a manager’s sensitivity and affection towards the well-being of others and ecological welfare; and (4) reciprocity as a measure of the degree to which a manager is rewarded for responding to the needs and concerns of ‘Others’, mainly in the form of a positive emotional (and relational) stimulus. The conceptual model consolidates earlier scholarly works on the psychological drivers of sustainability management by illuminating our search for a process of faith development that connects with an increasingly complex understanding of the role of business in society.