Two Narratives of Intergenerational Sustainability: A Framework for Sustainable Thinking

Source: Alisa Moldavanova, American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print December 25, 2014
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From the abstract:
This article recognizes that institutional survival alone is an important, but ultimately insufficient, goal for public and non-profit organizations. Instead, the article approaches organizational sustainability as a two-level concept that includes both institutional survival, as a baseline for sustainability, and intergenerational or longer term sustainability, understood as the ability of public institutions to persist and fulfill their purpose in the long run. The article is based on the findings of research conducted on a variety of public and non-profit cultural organizations, including museums, music and performing arts, and literature. However, the case of museums is used to illustrate two narratives of intergenerational sustainability: institutional resilience and institutional distinctiveness. The article notes that these narratives co-exist, although at times they contradict each other. It is the task of museum managers to reconcile the tensions embedded in these narratives via sustainable management practices. The broader implication of the study is that truly long-term sustainability, which secures the rights of future generations, requires sustainable stewardship today, and organizational sustainability should be viewed not as an outcome but rather as a process and an ethic.