c. Using information in the case study, explain the importance of economic and
ecological sustainability in operations management practices at Mikumi Secondary
School. [4 marks]
Economic sustainability is much about taking a long term view of where the organisation will
Economic sustainability is as much about taking a long term view of where the organisation
will be in ten years’ time, not six months’ time. Managers such as Jacob could make short term
decisions, MSS could borrow heavily, hire unqualified teachers, suppress working conditions
and pay, engage in price wars with competing schools, market substandard products, reduce
quality standards (such as inflating achievement scores to make the school look good), and
so on and such forth to boost short-term targets, temporarily inflate student numbers and
revenues. None of this is sustainable in the long term. A school engaging in this sort of short-
termism is not going to be economically sustainable in the long term.
On the other hand, investing in expensive green technologies, paying less skilled workers a
'living wage' and being fair to suppliers can place MSS at a competitive disadvantage,
possibly jeopardising its long-term economic viability. It is a balance the school is required to
achieve to be financially viable and maintain good student numbers in both the short-term
and the long-term.
Regarding ecological sustainability, which is the capacity of ecosystems to maintain their
essential functions and processes, and retain their biodiversity in full measure over the long-
term. Rural areas in developing countries such as Tanzania are especially vulnerable to
environmental degradation caused by the over grazing of cattle, farming practices which
strip nutrients from the soil and exploit scarce water resources. Often there is little, if any,
effective oversight by authorities. The community where MSS draws its students will be
especially vulnerable if the environment cannot be cared for and the land becomes
unproductive in the long term. The incomes earned from farming will cease to be sustainable
in the face of environmental degradation and families will be forced to leave the area taking
the students that MSS relies on.
Sustainability here refers to service and production processes that use resources in ways that
do not harm ecological systems that support both current and future human existence.
Sustainability measures often go beyond traditional environmental and economic measures
to include measures that incorporate social criterial in to decision making.
Because they fall within the realm of operations, operations management is central to dealing
with these issues. Sometimes referred to as ‘green initiatives’, the possibilities include reducing
packaging, materials, water and energy use, and the environmental impact of the supply
chain, including buying locally. Other possibilities include reconditioning used equipment
(e.g., printers and copiers) for resale and recycling.
MSS is guided by strong ethical principles and the fact that it grows food for the students and
staff points in the direction that MSS takes its responsibility for the environment seriously.