Can the ‘triple bottom line’ concept help organisations respond to sustainability issues?

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The ‘triple bottom line’ (TBL) concept is increasingly being used by organisations to report on how they are responding to sustainability issues under the headings of environmental, social and economic performance. Through the development of sustainability-related objectives under these headings and matching each objective with an appropriate indicator, organisations are able to monitor and evaluate their actions thereby improving their capacity to respond. However, the predominant way in which the TBL concept is used has its problems. Actions related to the economic dimension are frequently restricted to the organisation’s financial performance rather than its effects on the broader economy. Similarly, it can be difficult for organisations to find ways to contribute to broader social sustainability issues beyond what it does for its own employees. Probably the greatest challenge is to facilitate decision-making where trade-offs across the TBL dimensions are necessary. This paper evaluates the usefulness of the TBL concept drawing on experience with Murrumbidgee Irrigation and a review of other case studies in the literature. We argue that TBL reporting can enable organisations to better manage their response to the sustainability challenge when TBL reporting is approached as an iterative learning cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication5th Australian Stream Management Conference. Australian rivers
Subtitle of host publicationmaking a difference
Place of PublicationThurgoona, Australia
PublisherCharles Sturt University
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780646474793
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventAustralian Stream Management Conference - Albury, New South Wales, Australia, Australia
Duration: 21 May 200725 May 2007


ConferenceAustralian Stream Management Conference

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