Organisations with a Buddhist Ethos – A path to sustainability?


  • S.R. Abeydeera University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • K. Kearins Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
  • H. Tregidga Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom


This paper investigates how organisations with a Buddhist ethos make sense of different institutional logics in pursuing sustainability. Interviews and documentary evidence from two not-for-profit and two forprofit organisations in Sri Lanka are analysed. The founders and current leaders of all organisations are found to play a key role in promoting a Buddhist ethos. A more spiritual, systemic, and holistic approach to sustainability was seen in the not-for-profit organisations. The for-profits tended towards a stronger entity focus, evidencing a more managerially-oriented approach with both substantive and symbolic actions. Core practices of the not-for-profit organisations were more aligned with sustainability and were predominantly influenced by a Buddhist logic, in tandem with a community logic. The for-profits manifested a combination of Buddhist, community, and business logics in their sustainability practices. Buddhist logic primarily linked with strategic decisions and community relations, whereas usiness logic influenced ethical business conforming to standards and regulations.

Keywords: Buddhist ethos, for-profit organisations, not-for-profit organisations, Sri Lanka, sustainability