A systems engineering approach to business sustainability: a business sustainability framework and evaluation tool

Rautenbach, Megan (2019-04)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Sustainability is recognised as one of the primary challenges of modern businesses. The importance for, and pressure on businesses to incorporate aspects of sustainability into all business processes, that result in delivery of products and/or services, in terms of social equity, economic efficiency, and environmental performance, have increased over the last decades. Consequently, a number of business sustainability frameworks and approaches were developed to support businesses in incorporating these three elements of sustainability into business processes. However, these frameworks present challenges on how elements of sustainability could be incorporated into business processes. These challenges are: (i) the notion that these frameworks consider the business as a whole, and not as a number of sub-components; (ii) all dimensions of sustainability are not uniformly considered; (iii) measuring the three dimensions of sustainability is not similar across the business components; and (iv) businesses adapt their business processes to a recommended framework that considers sustainability at an aggregated level. The aim of this research is to contribute towards the body of knowledge of business sustainability through the development of a business sustainability framework that effectively facilitates a sustainable business vision through shared value. Such a business sustainability framework should address the challenges presented by existing business sustainability frameworks and approaches. The following objectives that, when addressed collectively, support the attainment of the above-stated aim are: Initially, a systematic review of literature pertaining to existing measures of sustainability, and sustainable business frameworks that are aimed to improve business sustainability through shared value are discussed. Using the systems engineering approach to address the challenges of sustainable business development, it allows for unpacking the business environment into business components and measure sustainability performances at these business components which ultimately aim to achieve their full potential in terms of sustainability. The overarching methodology which is guided by Jabareen's conceptual framework methodology proposes a qualitative systems engineering approach to business sustainability. Conceptual frameworks are products of qualitative processes, or set of concepts, that describe an event, object or process. Therefore, the conceptual framework approach enables the use of existing literature where the literature has certain relationships, features and concepts with one another and therefore the discussion of interrelations within concepts creates the applicability of Jabareen's approach. The Business Sustainability Framework is developed using the partnership of the systems engineering approach and the conceptual framework methodology. This high-level conceptualisation of the Business Sustainability Framework illustrates the four quadrants, that are subsequently translated into three stages within the developed Business Sustainability Evaluation Tool. The Business Sustainability Evaluation Tool aims to contribute to business sustainability to serve as a mechanism to measure business sustainability within a business environment. In conclusion, a case study application will be conducted to gain more in-depth and practical insight of how an international private hospital group considers business sustainability. Additionally, this research makes a contribution to the business sustainability field of research by providing a di erent view towards the contribution of business sustainability within businesses.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Volhoubaarheid word beskou as een van die primêre uitdagings van moderne ondernemings. Die afgelope dekade het die belangrikheid vir, en druk wat ondernemings ondervind om aspekte in te sluit van volhoubaarheid in alle besigheidsprosesse, wat lei tot die lewering van produkte en/of dienste, in terme van sosiale bilikheid, ekonomiese doeltreffendheid, en omgewingsoptrede prestasie toegeneem. Gevolglik is n aantal raamwerke en benaderings ontwikkel om ondernemings te ondersteun in terme van die insluiting van die drie elemente van volhoubaarheid in alle besigheidsprosesse. Hierdie raamwerke bied egter uitdagings aan oor hoe elemente van volhoubaarheid in sakeprosesse geinkorporeer kan word. Hierdie uitdagings is: (i) die idee dat hierdie raamwerke die besigheid as geheel beskou en nie as n aantal subonderdele nie; (ii) alle dimensies van volhoubaarheid word nie eenvormig oorweeg nie; (iii) die meting van die drie dimensies van volhoubaarheid is nie eenders oor die besigheidskomponente nie; en (iv) besighede pas hul sakeprosesse aan by n aanbevole raamwerk wat volhoubaarheid op n gesamentlike vlak oorweeg. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om n bydra te lewer tot die kennis van besigheid volhoubaarheid deur die ontwikkeling van n besigheids-volhoubaarheidsraamwerk wat n volhoubare besigheidsvisie deur middel van gedeelde waarde effektief fasiliteer. So n besigheids-volhoubaarheidsraamwerk moet aandag gee aan die uitdagings wat aangebied word deur bestaande raamwerke en benaderings vir besigheid volhoubaarheid. Die volgende doelwitte wat gesamentlik aangespreek word, ondersteun die bereiking van die bogenoemde doel is as volg: Eerstens word n sistematiese oorsig van literatuur met betrekking tot bestaande maatreels van volhoubaarheid, volhoubare besigheidsraamwerke wat daarop gemik is om besigheids volhoubaarheid deur gedeelde waarde te verbeter bespreek. Met behulp van die stelselsingenieurswese-benadering om die uitdagings van volhoubare besigheidsontwikkeling aan te spreek is dit moontlik om die besigheidsomgewing in besigheidskomponente uit te pak en volhoubaarheidsprestasies by die besigheidskomponente te meet, wat uiteindelik hul volle potensiaal ten opsigte van volhoubaarheid bereik. Die oorhoofse benadering tot n kwalitatiewe stelselsingenieurswesebenadering vir besigheid volhoubaarheid word gelei deur die beginsels van Jabareen se konseptuele raamwerk-analise. Die konseptuele raamwerk-analise stel die gebruik van bestaande literatuur in staat waar die literatuur sekere verhoudings, kenmerke, en konsepte het met mekaar en dus die bespreking van Jabareen se benadering toespaslik is. Die Besigheid Volhoubaarheidsraamwerk is ontwikkel op grond van die vennootskap tussen die stelselsingenieurswese benadering (insluitend die kwadrant bespreking) en die konseptuele raamwerk-analise. Die hoëvlak konseptualisering van die Besigheid Volhoubaarheidsraamwerk demonstreer die vier kwadrante, wat gevolglik getransponeer is in drie fases van die ontwikkelde Besigheid Volhoubaarheid Evalueringsinstrument. Die Besigheid Volhoubaarheid Evalueringsinstrument beoog om by te dra tot volhoubaarheid wat dien as n meganisme om volhoubaarheid te meet binne n besigheidsomgewing. Ten slotte word n gevallestudie toepassing uitgevoer om te begryp hoe n internasionale private hospitaalgroep besigheidsvolhoubaarheid oorweeg in hul besigheidsprosesse. Daarbenewens lewer hierdie navorsing n bydrae na die besigheid volhoubaarheidsveld van navorsing deur n ander siening voor te stel van besigheidsvolhoubaarheid binne besighede.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105883
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