Accounting for the social dimension of sustainability: experiences from the biotechnology industry
Journal article, 2006

Accounting for the social dimension of sustainability proves to be a challenge for corporate practitioners, due to its intangible, qualitative nature and lack of consensus on relevant criteria. We suggest a semi-quantitative approach based on stakeholder involvement to identify relevant aspects for a sector specific assessment of the social dimension. Our case study on biotechnology illustrates that the dialogue with internal and external stakeholders enabled the creation of a key performance indicator (KPI) set to account for social sustainability in the early design stages of biotechnological processes and product development. Indicators for eight aspects are identified for the social assessment: health and safety, quality of working conditions, impact on employment, education and training, knowledge management, innovation potential, customer acceptance and societal product benefit, and social dialogue. We describe the integration of the KPI set in a software application, tailor made for practitioners of the sector, and highlight first user experiences. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

stakeholder participation


stakeholder approach

indicator set

emerging technologies

social dimension

sustainability accounting



Justus von Geibler

Christa Liedtke

Holger Wallbaum

Stephan Schaller

Business Strategy and the Environment

0964-4733 (ISSN) 1099-0836 (eISSN)

Vol. 15 5 334-346

Subject Categories

Agricultural Biotechnology



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