Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 195-210

First online:

The Corporation is Ailing Social Technology: Creating a ‘Fit for Purpose’ Design for Sustainability

  • L. MetcalfAffiliated withMacquarie University Email author 
  • , S. BennAffiliated withUniversity of Technology, Sydney

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Designed to facilitate economic development, the corporate form now threatens human survival. This article presents an argument that organisations are yet to be ‘fit for purpose’ and that the corporate form needs to be re-designed to reach sustainability. It suggests that organisations need to recognise their agent status amongst a much wider and highly complex array of interconnected, dynamic economic, environmental and social systems. Human Factors theory is drawn on to propose that business systems could be made sustainable through re-design. They could fit their environment more appropriately by improving: Efficiency, Adaptability and Social Cohesion. Leaders of organisations would also need to take a holistic approach to alter the organisation proactively to adapt to the systems within which it is embedded.


Complex adaptive systems Complexity leadership Corporate social responsibility Human factors Sustainability