Simple doable goals: a roadmap for multinationals to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals

Ishwar Haritas, Arindam Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper aims to present an approach for business organizations, especially multinational enterprises (MNEs), to pivot their focus from the United Nations sustainable development goals (UN SDGs) to simple doable goals (SDoGs) so that the probability of impactful and sustainable outcomes increases significantly. Design/methodology/approach: Through multilevel analyses, the paper identifies the current challenges in the firm-level implementation of the SDGs. Consequently, it synthesizes an integrated solution that can help MNEs create sustainable business models, contributing to realizing the SDGs. Findings: The sporadic and chaotic adoption of SDGs and ambiguous outcomes reported by businesses are due to the following: SDG adoption choices are driven by the materiality effect; the differences between the UN-defined government targets and business-level targets, often chosen by businesses on their own, make an aggregation of performances infeasible; lack of validation of the firm-level reporting leads to “greenwashing”; focusing less on business model transformation and more on reporting hinders the achievement of true sustainability; and lack of coordination and integration in actionizing among stakeholders limits the holistic change that the SDGs are expected to bring to society. Based on the Prêt à faire – Gestalt matrix, the proposed framework shifts the organization’s focus to the fundamental aspects of the purpose, strategy and business sustainability, and demonstrates how the resultant SDoGs effectively contribute to the realization of the SDGs. The matrix in the framework classifies an MNE based on its overall organizational readiness to seize business opportunities and helps pursue a course of action toward true sustainability. Originality/value: The guidelines from the proposed framework offer different strategic paths for the MNE to achieve parity, temporary advantage, and, finally, sustained competitive advantage. This transformative approach enables businesses to develop their roadmaps for achieving business sustainability and supporting the realization of the SDGs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociety and Business Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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