When companies take over the state responsibility



By Victoire Berger

SKEMA Business School

Lille, France



This paper aims at finding solutions for companies to make sure that their business partners respect their clients’ always higher sustainability standards. Indeed, as the usual legal regulation are not law-binding enough, companies have to take the matter on their own hands.  To do so, we will first try and find the different possible alternatives and then, the best attributes to assess each of those alternatives. We will then use several Multi-Attribute Decision Making (MADM) methods to find out what is the best solution. We will finally show that the best solution is to include sustainable clauses in project management contracts, thanks to a Pareto analysis.

Keywords: Economic, Social, Environment, Transparency, Sustainability standards, Ethic, Law, Stakeholders, Business, Interests, Regulation, Planet, People, Profit, Obligation


“By early August of each year (soon to be late July), humans will have consumed what the planet can regenerate. […] In all, we consume the natural resources of 1.7 earths a year.”[1] And the consequences are huge. The exponential growth of the global population and the ineffective use of the planet’s resources are the two main things responsible. All around the world, concerns are rising for the long-term viability of life-as-we-know-it. Global warming, deforestation, pollution, biodiversity losses are as many issues that need to be dealt with if we want our planet to remain viable. As lives are at stake – in 2012, around 6.5 million deaths were associated with air pollution[2] – people are becoming more and more willing to implement changes in order to adopt a more sustainable way of living. There is a real global trend towards a more transparent and respectful way to consume and produce. Companies that do not comply with the globally accepted sustainability standards suffer the consequences, such as taxes, benefices losses, and bad brand reputation.[3]

Sustainability is a broad and complex notion. The most often quoted definition comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[4]

For many specialists, the concept of sustainability is associated with three main pillars, namely, economic and social development and environment protection. All economic actor, should, if applying this concept, not only consider the economic impact of its actions but also their environmental and social consequences, companies included.[5] The future of our planet and the life of our grandchildren are at stake. Yet, it seems that without a compelling regulation, some economic actors will keep looking for a short-term economic profit. This is a big issue in project management. Indeed, in each large-scale project, stakeholders are numerous and often of different nationalities. The fact is that, depending on their culture, or their different interests, all stakeholders will not have the same sustainability and ethical standards. So, how can companies make sure that their business partners respect their clients’ always higher sustainability standards?


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Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

How to cite this paper: Berger, V. (2019). Sustainability: when companies take over the state responsibility, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue II (February). Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pmwj79-Feb2019-Berger-sustainability-when-companies-take-over-state-responsibilties.pdf


About the Author

Victoire Berger

Lille, France




Victoire Berger is a PGE Student at SKEMA Business School currently in Msc Project and Program Management and Business Development in Lille France.

After graduating from High school and passed her scientific “baccalaureate” with distinction, she did a Preparatory class for competitive entrance into French Business School during 2 years in the well-recognized “lycée du Parc” in Lyon. She integrated the “Programme Grande Ecole” of SKEMA BS in Management in 2016. After a year spent in Sophia Antipolis, she had the opportunity to go to Madagascar for a 2-months humanitarian internship. She spent the first semester of her Master’s degree in the famous Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and the second, on the Skema’s campus of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is currently finishing her Msc in Project and Program Management and Business Development in Lille, France, where she develops her leadership skills and project management knowledge. She is currently working on the PRINCE 2 and AGILE PM certifications.

Victoire can be contacted at victoire.berger@skema.edu, you can also send her a message via her Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoire-berger-a79b13128/


[1] Carboni, J., Duncan, W., Gonzalez, M., Milsom, P., & Young, M. (2018). Sustainable Project Management: The GPM Reference Guide (2nd ed.). Novi, USA: GPM Global.

[2] WHO releases country estimates on air pollution exposure and health impact. (2016, September 27). Retrieved on, October 23, 2018, from http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/27-09-2016-who-releases-country-estimates-on-air-pollution-exposure-and-health-impact

[3] Roberts, J. (n.d.). Lack of transparency – Writing for Strategic Communication Industries. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/stratcommwriting/chapter/lack-of-transparency/

[4]What is Sustainability? | UCLA Sustainability. (n.d.). Retrieved on, October 23, 2018, from https://www.sustain.ucla.edu/about-us/what-is-sustainability/

[5] [Sustainability definition & criteria]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/sustainability_primer_v9.pdf