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What does sustainability mean for a cluster in industry?

Inquiry of requirements, implementation of qualification schemes and coaching in the design of sustainability reports for selected companies of the styrian automobile cluster with special emphasis on environmental and social costs.

Short Description




Sustainable development is comprised of three dimensions: environment, social and economic. These three dimensions are not separate however if there is to be a realisation of this type of development in companies. Sustainable management accounting aims to develop methods which integrate all three dimensions and implement them in pilot projects.

Starting from the discussion about the relevance of Sustainability for a chosen network in the automobile industry and their members, the concept of "Sustainability" and its meaning for this sector in particular was specified. On this basis a plan for education and training for the employees was developed. A series of workshops, together with the exchange of experiences and the building of an information platform provided the basis for the following modules in this project and for further operationalisation of requirements for the cluster related to the concept of sustainable development.

The implementation of Sustainability Management Accounting in enterprises of the automobile cluster had the intention to further develop methods for integrated approaches which describe the social, economic and ecological dimension of sustainability. For this purpose, special interest was put on a more intensive consideration of monetarised sustainability effects in all three dimensions. Therefore, data and information from the involved enterprises were analysed in advance and compared with similar enterprises in the same industrial sector and with the main topics of sustainability reports of the big players in the automobile industry. In six enterprises of the automobile cluster, one-day workshops were held where data in connection with environmental and social costs were collected on site. In a second round open questions were clarified, the Excel-Tool which was used for data collection was completed and discussed with the companies and the further procedure concerning sustainability reporting was defined.

With this new method for consideration of already existing social and ecological costs enterprises got an instrument which shows that these costs are relevant for enterprises' decisions. Enterprises learn to see operational sustainability measures as an increase of their share value and therefore are able to contribute to the safeguard of their existence.

A publication was put together which shows what sustainability implies for the cluster and how sustainability management accounting can be defined, what the related cost categories are and where they can be found in the list of accounts and other records. This part is supplemented by a case study that shows in depth how to calculate sustainability costs in all 3 dimensions. For the assessment on site, an Excel-Tool has been developed, that is also generally available for companies and consultants. This publication is available not only for the cluster but a general audience and has already received a lot of interest from the scientific community.

The most important results for further dissemination are:

  • A Publication about the methodological approach, a case study and an Excel-Tool for data collection
  • An Abstract for a paper in a special issue (Sustainability in the automobile industry) of the Journal of Cleaner Production Special Issue
  • A Publication in selected conference proceedings of the year 2004 of the Environmental Management Accounting Network (EMAN) 2004

Project Partners

Project Management:
Mag. Uwe Galler
ACstyria Autocluster GmbH
Parkring 1, A-8074 Graz/Grambach
Tel.: +43 (0)316 409696-13
Fax: +43 (0)316 409696-33

(Contact) :

ACstyria Autocluster GmbH
Parkring 1, A-8074 Graz/Grambach
Tel.: +43 (0)316 409696-13
Fax: +43 (0)316 409696-33

Univ.Doz. Mag. Dr. Christine Jasch
Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung
Rechte Wienzeile 19/5, A-1040 Wien
Tel: +43 (0)1 5872189
Fax: +43 (0)1 5870971

Univ.Prof. Dr. Hans Schnitzer
JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Institut für Nachhaltige Techniken und Systeme - JOINTS
Elisabethstrasse 16-18, A-8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (0)316 / 876-2424
Fax: +43 (0)316 / 876-2430

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