Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 93–112 | Cite as

Dynamic Capabilities for Sustainability: Revealing the Systemic Key Factors

  • Luciana Oranges Cezarino
  • Marlon Fernandes Rodrigues Alves
  • Adriana Cristina Ferreira Caldana
  • Lara Bartocci LiboniEmail author
Original Paper


By applying systems thinking theory to capabilities literature, this paper examines the factors that support the development of dynamic capabilities towards sustainable management. For such, we conducted an in-depth single case study using Soft System Methodology (SSM) in an energy organisation from an emerging economy. Our analysis of the last twenty years of operation revealed that the organisation has developed new ways to change and adapt in a disturbing environment by integrating sustainability into three factors: (1) integrative strategy (green products, biodiversity, organic processes and self-sufficient electricity), (2) sustainable culture (sustainable mindset, environmental awareness, learning orientation and decision-making processes) and (3) organisational routines for innovation (new green processes and products, partnerships/alliances and knowledge management). Our results extend the literature by raising a conceptual framework of the fundamental dimensions of dynamic capabilities for sustainability. This is the first study that connects systems thinking and dynamic capabilities theories applied to sustainable management.


Organisational capabilities Environmental capabilities Eco-capabilities Corporate social responsibility Systems thinking 



The authors are thankful for the insightful comments provided by the editor, Robert L. Flood, and by the anonymous reviewers. The paper also benefited from discussions with participants of the 31th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium (EGOS), 26th Production and Operations Management Society Annual Conference (POMS) and the 59th International Society for the Systems Sciences Annual Meeting (ISSS). The Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) financially supported this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Business and ManagementFederal University of Uberlândia (FAGEN/UFU)UberlândiaBrazil
  2. 2.Federal Institute of EducationScience and Technology of São Paulo (IFSP)São CarlosBrazil
  3. 3.School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting at Ribeirão PretoUniversity of São Paulo (FEA-RP/USP)Ribeirão PretoBrazil

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