HOW management and organization principles are taught has shifted significantly since my undergraduate years as an Applied Corporate Management student. Gone are the days when students were trained to climb the corporate ladder; now, much of the curriculum is focused on sustainable organizing, humanistic management and stakeholder integration. Beyond profits, socioecological effects have become vital considerations in every business decision.

Despite the rich repository of research conducted over the years, what we generally know about sustainability is arguably still tiny compared to what is left to discover, study and apply. From the triple bottom line (TBL) approach to social and ecological thought (SET) and everything in between, sustainability management is ever-changing and increasingly relevant.

While foundational knowledge is essential, new, unorthodox theories make sustainability management all the more fascinating to study because of the innovative perspectives and frameworks presented in response to socioecological challenges. One example is the Quantum Sustainable Organizing Theory (QSOT) developed by Bruno Dyck and Nathan Greidanus in 2017.

QSOT is heavily influenced by the quantum physics ideologies of “entanglement” and “indeterminism” — interconnectedness and uncertainty, in other words. Classic organization theories heavily emphasize financial bottom line (FBL) pursuits such as profit maximization, market share and economic growth, among others. However, Dyck and Greidanus argue that such “conventional” and “Newtonian” views create a “constructed reality” that is immaterial in the face of socioecological crises.

These entrap organizations in “Newtonian straitjackets,” significantly limiting what they can contribute to the world to which they are intrinsically connected. With entanglement and indeterminism as hallmarks, “quantum” organizations leverage interconnectedness amid uncertainty, where socioecological well-being trumps competitive advantage.

With great interest in such a radical perspective, our group sought to understand QSOT further as a theory in practice. In the best way we knew, we conducted qualitative research in search of quantum organizations. Focusing on the agricultural industry, we completed our research by crafting case studies based on interviews we conducted with agri-social enterprises.

One case in particular served as clear evidence of quantum organizations in the Philippines. The firm — a zero-waste-café-turned-agri-trading business — consistently placed great importance on its entanglements with the natural world and indigenous farming communities. Despite being forced to shift business models during the pandemic due to financial constraints and other economic pressures, it was able to bridge partner farmers with growing customer advocates through community-supported agriculture. With no farmer left behind, socioecological well-being was nurtured in the face of indeterminism, placing purpose over profit and entanglements over competitive advantage.

Following quantum entanglement and indeterminism, emerging sustainable organizing theories must be holistic and value-creating to break free from the “Newtonian straitjacket.” While it is already an achievement to prove the existence of progressive, quantum organizations in the Philippines, I look forward to witnessing these ideologies at play as I move beyond the classroom and enter the world of work. From this point on, the evolution of sustainability management only continues, with so much more to learn.

James Marius N. Bolinao is an Applied Corporate Management graduate of the Department of Management and Organization, Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business-De La Salle University. He is currently a sales key accounts manager at Procter & Gamble Philippines. He can be contacted at james_marius_bolinao@dlsu.edu.ph.

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