The Life Cycle Management and Intellectual Capital factors that influence sustainability integration in organisational processes
Following the suggestions of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative publications on Life Cycle Management (LCM) as a business management approach to improve sustainability performance, this research explored LCM as a promising research area that could help identify the factors that influence the integration of sustainability aspects into organisational processes. The initial research strategy was comprised of LCM literature analysis to explore LCM and identify potential factors that could direct the data collection. The analysis of the LCM literature shows that LCM is vaguely described. This research analysis puts into context the various LCM approaches through the introduction of the four LCM elements. The LCM elements were used as a frame to analyse the LCM cases found in the literature and identify the factors that influence integration of sustainability in organisational processes. The next stage of the research strategy was to conduct action research studies to explore in close proximity the integration of sustainability aspects in organisational processes. Two in depth action research studies were conducted, influenced by engaged scholarship. During Case A, the LCM elements were used in practice to influence the project whilst the LCM factors were observed in practice. Case A demonstrated the complexity of sustainability-related information integration in organisational processes and the division of information flows towards different organisational functions to inform their own decision. The analysis highlighted that developing knowledge is a key LCM factor that influences the application of LCM. As the importance of developing knowledge became apparent, a novel sustainability related intellectual capital (SrIC) framework was developed then used during Case B. This framework is shown to assist the sustainability professionals of Company B in enhancing the sustainability related intellectual capital of the company, which in turn led to more effective sustainability integration. This research used LCM as a ‘vehicle’ to explore the integration of sustainability aspects into organisational processes and hence contribute to the LCM literature with the four LCM elements framework of analysis, descriptions of the factors that influence the application of LCM, bringing a focus on the importance of developing knowledge for the effective application of LCM, and identifying the intellectual capital factors that influence the integration of sustainability aspects into organisational processes.