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Same Same but Different: How and Why Banks Approach Sustainability

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  • Salome Zimmermann

    () (Department of Service Management, FernUniversität in Hagen, 58084 Hagen, Germany)

Abstract

Given their intermediary role and resulting influence on other industries, banks are pivotal in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), for which they approach ecological and social challenges in numerous ways. This study aims at creating a typology of the sustainability strategies that banks implement. To this end, 26 in-depth interviews were conducted within the German banking industry to detect patterns in the sustainable practices of these financial institutions. The strategy types identified are narrow, peripheral, balanced, and integrative, which are similar in structure but substantially different with respect to the kind of practices. Specifically, three main features distinguish these strategies. First, banks focus on either their core businesses or the peripheries of their business. Second, banks can concentrate on social or environmental issues. Third, within the peripheries of their businesses, banks can support external sustainability projects in terms of finances or content. It is also found that the choice of strategy is driven by varying combinations of business, social, and environmental motives. I thus explore the ways by which financial institutions contribute to the realization of the SDGs. The typology established in this work improves understanding with regards to the implementation of sustainability strategies and serves as inspiration to sustainability managers of banks. It also adds to sustainability research in the service context, which, unlike the manufacturing industry, is a widely under-researched setting.

Suggested Citation

  • Salome Zimmermann, 2019. "Same Same but Different: How and Why Banks Approach Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(8), pages 1-20, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:8:p:2267-:d:222986
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    2. Blandina Walowe Kori & Stephen M. A. Muathe & Samuel Mwangi Maina, 2020. "Financial and Non-Financial Measures in Evaluating Performance: The Role of Strategic Intelligence in the Context of Commercial Banks in Kenya," International Business Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 13(10), pages 130-130, October.
    3. Amr ElAlfy & Nicholas Palaschuk & Dina El-Bassiouny & Jeffrey Wilson & Olaf Weber, 2020. "Scoping the Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Research in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Era," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(14), pages 1-21, July.
    4. Diego Monferrer & José Ramón Segarra & Marta Estrada & Miguel Ángel Moliner, 2019. "Service Quality and Customer Loyalty in a Post-Crisis Context. Prediction-Oriented Modeling to Enhance the Particular Importance of a Social and Sustainable Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(18), pages 1-27, September.
    5. Clara Gallego-Sosa & Milagros Gutiérrez-Fernández & Yakira Fernández-Torres & María Teresa Nevado-Gil, 2021. "Corporate Social Responsibility in the European Banking Sector: Commitment to the 2030 Agenda and Its Relationship with Gender Diversity," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(4), pages 1-23, February.
    6. Francesco Manta & Annunziata Tarulli & Domenico Morrone & Pierluigi Toma, 2020. "Toward a Quadruple Bottom Line: Social Disclosure and Financial Performance in the Banking Sector," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(10), pages 1-18, May.
    7. Juan Camilo Mejia-Escobar & Juan David González-Ruiz & Eduardo Duque-Grisales, 2020. "Sustainable Financial Products in the Latin America Banking Industry: Current Status and Insights," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(14), pages 1-25, July.

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