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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Simone Carmine

University of Padova, Italy

The importance of being paradoxical: A paradox approach to foster sustainability



Approaching sustainability issues, companies face many challenges and tensions between the three dimensions of sustainability (e.g. environmental and social performance VS economic performance) and this can weaken their sustainability performance. Indeed, tensions can be a double-edge sword: they can be seen as threats or opportunities leading to defensive or proactive responses, that produce negative or positive effects. As we know form the literature, a paradox approach, in which companies accept tensions and purse competing goals simultaneously, can support organizations in coping with tensions and achieving positive outcomes. For these reasons, the current study empirically investigates how a paradox approach can help companies in dealing with tensions in sustainability, mitigating their negative impact and achieving better social, environmental and financial performance. A quantitative analysis has been performed on original survey data about tensions, paradox approach and performance in sustainability. Our analysis revels a positive moderation effect of approaching sustainability tensions in a paradoxical way on sustainability performance, especially for social and environmental outcomes.


Ph.D. Candidate in Management at the Department of Economics and Management ‘Marco Fanno’ (DSEA), University of Padova, Italy. He graduated in philosophy - bachelor (2014) and master (2017) - at the University of Eastern Piedmont, In Italy. His research is focused on sustainability performance and sustainable innovation adopting a paradox perspective lens. For his Ph.D. thesis, he is working on how the paradox perspective can support firms’ sustainability efforts and to achieve financial and non-financial performance, by the means of both quantitative and qualitative analyses, in the Italian context. He has presented his work-in-progress at several conferences including Academy of Management (2019, 2020), EURAM 2019, GRONEN 2020, EGOS Colloquium 2020.

Simone Carmine

Simone Carmine