Understanding the Role of the Corporation in Sustainability Transitions

Organization & Environment 32(2), 87-97, 2019

Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 19-49

12 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2019

See all articles by Magali A. Delmas

Magali A. Delmas

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Thomas P. Lyon

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

John W. Maxwell

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy; Indiana University, Department of Economics; Richard Ivey School of Business

Date Written: August 23, 2019

Abstract

The state of the planet calls for large-scale sustainability transitions involving systemic adoption of markedly better environmental and social practices. The objective of this symposium is to better understand the role of corporations in promoting such systemic change. We present four case studies — representing diverse industries and change mechanisms — to investigate corporate leadership in sustainability transitions. The cases examine a wide range of mechanisms used by corporations to progress toward sustainability, such as political coalition building and information strategies through eco-labels, socially responsible investing, and the public statements of CEOs. In this introduction, we discuss the challenges associated with both achieving and studying systemic change, explain the rationale for a case study approach, describe the findings from the case studies, and draw some general conclusions on the mechanisms by which firms may be able to lead, or at least participate in, systemic change in the different phases of sustainability transitions.

Keywords: sustainability, market transformation, corporate leadership, Marine Stewardship Council, socially responsible investing, CEO activism, nongovernmental organizations

JEL Classification: L2, L5, M, Q, O3

Suggested Citation

Delmas, Magali A. and Lyon, Thomas P. and Maxwell, John W., Understanding the Role of the Corporation in Sustainability Transitions (August 23, 2019). Organization & Environment 32(2), 87-97, 2019; Kelley School of Business Research Paper No. 19-49. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3442020 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3442020

Magali A. Delmas (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Thomas P. Lyon

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734-615-1639 (Phone)

John W. Maxwell

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy ( email )

Department of Business Economics and Public Policy
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-855 9219 (Phone)
812-855 3354 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://johnwmaxwell.com

Indiana University, Department of Economics ( email )

Wiley Hall
Bloomington, IN
United States

Richard Ivey School of Business ( email )

The University of Western Ontario
1151 Richmond Street North
London, Ontario N6A3K7
Canada
5198502439 (Phone)
5198502306 (Fax)

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