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An exploration of the drivers and outcomes of corporate sustainability within large commercial organisations

Robey, J. (2016) An exploration of the drivers and outcomes of corporate sustainability within large commercial organisations. DBA thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This thesis examines the drivers and outcomes of corporate sustainability within the context of large commercial organisations by examining insights collected from corporate sustainability practitioners. A driver-outcome model based on stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984), sustainability theory (Dyllick and Hockerts, 2002), and organisational psychology (Mael and Ashforth, 1992; Morgan and Hunt, 1994) is conceptualised linking the business case drivers of sustainability as well as CEO and organisational commitment to sustainability, with both corporate sustainability performance and sustainability practitioner engagement. This new model makes a theoretical contribution by combining the above concepts in a single model for the first time, and an empirical contribution by testing the model quantitatively. The empirical model is tested with data collected using a quantitative survey completed by sustainability practitioners employed at 177 large corporate organisations. Partial Least Squares structural equation modelling is employed to assess both the reliability and validity of the indicator measures as well as the structural model, and to provide insights relating to the path coefficients and their explanatory power and predictive relevance. In addition, the thesis explores how factors such as organisational culture (measured by Hofstede et al.’s (1990) six dimensional culture framework) and the sustainability practitioners’ own belief systems (measured through social axioms (Leung et al., 2002) and Mayer and Frantz’s (2004) Connectedness to Nature scale) act as moderating variables on the conceptualised driver-outcome model. This was completed using a multi-group analysis technique developed by Henseler at al. (1990). The study results indicate that the business case drivers of sustainability identified (employee, client, and owner expectations, together with access to natural resources and opportunities for efficiency gains), together with both CEO and organisational commitment to sustainability, are important factors in driving perceived corporate sustainability performance. More specifically, organisational commitment to sustainability is shown to partially mediate the relationship between the business case drivers and perceived corporate sustainability performance, and fully mediate the relationship between CEO commitment and perceived performance. The research makes several significant contributions. It provides a theoretical model, supported by empirical findings, linking the drivers and outcomes of corporate sustainability in the context of large commercial organisations. It also contributes through the development of new instruments for the measurement of under-researched constructs such as the business drivers of corporate sustainability, CEO and organisational commitment to sustainability, and also corporate sustainability performance. Finally, it provides some useful insights about the effects that sustainability practitioner beliefs and organisational culture have on the conceptualised theoretical model of corporate sustainability.

Item Type:Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Supervisor:Hillenbrand, C. and Money, K.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School
ID Code:80459

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