The concept of sustainability is not new, but its incorporation in the management culture of businesses is rather resent. The culture of sustainability has matured as a result of the internationalization and the consequent globalization of business activity. Internationalization in this respect has represented the first step in a process of change in the business culture of modern enterprises. The internationalization of business activity resulting from the identification of new opportunities did not however change, the short term profit maximizing culture of entrepreneurs. In fact, the business management culture of the international entrepreneur remained unchanged, as he continued to see his role as that of an opportunity discoverer with the sole functional difference that now business opportunities were discovered abroad rather than domestically.
The impact of firms having to compete internationally inevitably, forced them to adapt to new conditions of risk, uncertainty and change which altered their business and management culture. As firms had to penetrate and position themselves internationally, they were forced to understand competition beyond the traditional short-run profit maximizing paradigm. Slowly but surely, the competing business culture of enterprises began to change as the need to survive became more pressing than the need to maximise profits.
This altered not only the way entrepreneurs competed, but the way they conceived the shifting role of the firm, away from being a mere productive unit to being a social unit, integrated in a new social, political and cultural context.
This cultural transition towards the globalization of firms, intensified as competition extinguished the possibilities of entrepreneurs identifying new business opportunities. Consequently, it became no longer possible for firms banking on opportunity discovery to continue to compete the way they used to. As this new competitive context developed, firms had to adopt a new business culture centred more on opportunity creation than on opportunity discovery to survive competitively.