BLISS - Business GuideLines Inducing Social Sustainability

Business GuideLines Inducing Social Sustainability (BLISS): a practical guidance based on the instrument 'social performance analysis', its adaptation and application in a pilot enterprise.

Short Description




For some years the topic of sustainability has become intensely discussed in the scientific community as well as in business and society. The term ‘sustainability' is used in many, often varying contexts and synonymously with similar terms like "sustainable development" and, as to business, ‘corporate sustainability'. 'Corporate responsibility is a pact for the mutual benefit between society and business that needs business for economic and social development, and business that needs a supportive business environment" (Davies 2003, 304). According to the definition of the European Commission (CEC, 2001), CSR is a concept that serves as a basis for enterprises to voluntarily integrate social issues and environmental responsibilities into their company activities and in the interaction with their stakeholders (e.g. owners and shareholders, employees, customers and consumers, suppliers, NGOs, local communities, nature, society).

Previous programs and initiatives for ‚Corporate Social Responsibility' (CSR) make an important contribution by raising awareness and discussing social responsibility'. However, they need to be supplemented by additional instruments. These shall base on the actual conditions and needs of the company, help to attain an overview over the effectiveness of their past procedures, reveal needs for improvement and support by estimating success potentials of measures.

The aim of the project ‘Business GuideLines Inducing Social Sustainability - BLISS' is to exemplarily provide one Austrian enterprise with a guidance of practical relevance on how to integrate the social dimension of sustainability into its strategic as well as operational management.

As a pilot the entrepreneurial group ‚Strobl Bau Weiz - Strobl Holzbau - DieNeuen', located in the eastern part of Styria (Province of Austria), participated in the project. After preliminary talks with the management and the collecting of statistic data the actual state of social sustainability was investigated in the enterprise.

The model approach is based on a combined top-down and a bottom-up approach: In addition to the statistical data interviews with managers provide first clues about the status quo. Workshops with employees of different divisions and hierarchical levels use the experiences of the employees in order to elaborate relevant solutions for identified problems and/or weaknesses. A subsequent investigation via questionnaire extends the number of the persons involved and offers the possibility to obtain appraisals and propositions of all member of the enterprise, which adds to the general overview of social sustainability in the enterprise.

The pilot enterprise got a detailed overview of its present state concerning social sustainability by summarising the results of the different steps in an analysis report. On the basis of the analysis firm specific guidelines were compiled enabling this enterprise to systematically implement social sustainability into its activities.

These guidelines provide the pilot company with guidance on how to implement a CSR monitoring system without the need of expensive external consulting. The main issue is to produce a device that can easily be adjusted to a company's needs, is easy to handle and does not only comprehend checklists of criteria, but also serves as a guidance to find out ‘how to do CSR in the company'. The guidelines also refer to interfaces to management models (like the EFQM system) and sustainability reporting (according to the GRI reporting guidelines). The focusing on a single enterprise and the firm specific adjustment of materials make sure that the compiled guidelines are ‚custom-made' and relevant both.

Project Partners

Project management

Dr. Ulrike Seebacher
Tel.: +43 (0) 316/813909-25

Project or cooperation partner

  • alpha nova Betriebsgesellschaft m.b.H
    Mag. Gerhard Liebmann
  • Institut für Innovations- und Umweltmanagement
    Dr. Ulrike Gelbmann
  • Unternehmensgruppe Baufirma Strobl

Contact Address

Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum (IFZ)
Dr. Ulrike Seebacher
Schlögelgasse 2
8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (0) 316/813909-25
Fax: +43 (0) 316/810274