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The biophilic organization: an integrative metaphor for corporate sustainability.

Jones, David R.


David R. Jones


This paper proposes a new organizational metaphor, the 'Biophilic Organization', which aims to counter the bio-cultural disconnection of many organizations despite their espoused commitment to sustainability. This conceptual research draws on multiple disciplines such as evolutionary psychology and architecture to not only develop a diverse bio-cultural connection but to show how this connection tackles sustainability, in a holistic and systemic sense. Moreover, the paper takes an integrative view of sustainability, which effectively means that it embraces the different emergent tensions. Three specific tensions are explored: efficiency versus resilience, organizational versus personal agendas and isomorphism versus institutional change. In order to illustrate how the Biophilic Organization could potentially provide a synthesis strategy for such tensions, healthcare examples are drawn from the emerging fields of Biophilic Design in Singapore and Generative Design in the U.S.A. Finally, an example is provided which highlights how a Taoist cultural context has impacted on a business leader in China, to illustrative the significance of a transcendent belief system to such a bio-cultural narrative.


JONES, D.R. 2015. The biophilic organization: an integrative metaphor for corporate sustainability. Journal of business ethics [online], 138(3), pages 401-416. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 25, 2015
Online Publication Date Apr 2, 2015
Publication Date Oct 1, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 19, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 19, 2016
Journal Journal of business ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN 1573-0697
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 138
Issue 3
Pages 401-416
Keywords Biophilic organisation; Sustainability; Generative design; Biophilic design; Taoism
Public URL


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