This thesis is an exploratory study of how firms develop corporate sustainability as a strategic orientation. Corporate sustainability is the conceptualisation of sustainable development at the organisational level. The approach of corporate sustainability is suggested to enable organisations achieve long-term survival and competitiveness, as ecological challenges and their social ramifications intensify (Hart & Milstein, 2003; Sharma, 2002; The World Bank, 2006; Winn & Kirchgeorg, 2006). The fields of organisational strategy and organisations and the natural environment (O.N.E.) are increasingly debating the strategic advantages of corporate sustainability (Hart & Milstein, 2003; Orsato, 2006; Sharma, 2002). This thesis engages the debate of corporate sustainability's strategic advantages by exploring how firms become orientated to corporate sustainability.
Little is understood about the mechanisms within firms that promote the strategic advantages of corporate sustainability (Bansal, 2005), hence this thesis qualitatively, explored two critical cases of corporate sustainability (Yin, 2003). A resource-based view framework directed this thesis to ask how firms develop and implement a corporate sustainability orientation (Barney, Wright, & Ketchen, 2001). Four propositions are presented, suggesting corporate sustainability emerges as a strategic orientation, and that this orientation is associated with several key dimensions, including: a capacity to learn for longevity, integrate stakeholders and innovate. These propositions found support in the qualitative exploration of two firms commended for their sustainability practices. The case firms offered an empirical base that concurs with extant resource-based understanding of corporate sustainability, and extends literature by indicating a capacity for dynamic leadership and an intent for corporate sustainability deeply embedded in an adaptive culture, are significant in realising the strategic advantages of corporate sustainability.