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Business-as-usual is likely to drive us to an unsustainable world. To solve the problems human industrial activity has created, such as climate change, species extinction, and biodiversity loss, business leaders (CEOs, top managers, and boards of directors) must be central to the solution for corporate sustainability (CS). In particular, ‘heroic’ leaders are needed to transform their companies into business beyond usual. In this essay, we briefly outline what researchers already know about microfoundational or socio-cognitive and motivational underpinnings of leaders that affect CS. However, gaps remain in our understanding of affective drivers and values of leaders. We question whether microfoundations research has the potential to understand true business transformation for positive deviance and suggest that positive organizational scholarship and research on sustainability change agents can provide insights. We next highlight how empirical and research design shortcomings might be addressed. Finally, we discuss how to identify, develop, and empower leaders with transformational potential so that we can proactively create heroic leaders rather than wait for them to magically appear.

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Organizational leaders constantly face paradoxical tensions in navigating their firms’ corporate sustainability. Applying a cognitive framing perspective, I examine how two ideal-type frames – a business case frame and a holistic frame – can have differential impacts on how managers respond to performing, belonging, learning, and organizing paradoxes in corporate sustainability. I propose that a business case frame will result in behaviors, such as engaging a narrow set of stakeholders and implementing incremental changes to their sustainability practices, which advance their firms’ interests but not that of the broader system. Conversely, a holistic frame will result in behaviors, such as integrating stakeholder demands and collaborating with peers, which can make meaningful contributions for their firms and society at large. Drawing on established theories in management, I explain the mechanisms through which these cognitive frames influence managerial decision-making. In doing so, I integrate paradox theory within the larger body of management literature, while describing its distinctive influence on the presence and role of tensions in corporate sustainability. By considering the malleability of cognitive frames, my argument offers a pathway forward to building an ecosystem that regards environmental and social concerns as an end in themselves, rather than a means for profit maximization.

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How do the material aspects of intermediary work affect regulators, targets, and beneficiaries? To shed light on this question, we studied an information intermediary in the form of a website and the organizations who founded it. Specifically, we analyzed FracFocus, a self-regulatory initiative with strong industry ties, charged with disclosing data pertaining to the chemicals used in oil and gas wells completed using hydraulic fracturing technology (fracking) in the United States and Canada. We found that between 2010 and mid-2017, the vast majority of legislation in states and provinces where fracking actively occurred was updated to mandate or encourage disclosure via FracFocus, meaning that it had a considerable effect on the trajectory of official regulation on fracking disclosure. We also found that FracFocus disclosed important data but did so in a manner that limited accessibility and reduced the comprehensibility of environmental and public health risks to beneficiaries. Our analysis suggests that the public’s experience of such a device is one of opaque transparency, in which the line between official and non-official regulation is blurred. We traced these outcomes to the material affordances created by FracFocus.

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Change in strategic leadership has important implications for corporate social performance (CSP) and sustainability. As new CEOs have a strong incentive to attend to a broad set of stakeholders to build their trust and reputation within the firm, our study draws on stakeholder salience theory to examine a boundary condition, the presence of financial distress, that might challenge a new CEO’s ability to perform such a task. We examine the differential impacts between externally recruited CEOs (outsiders) and internally promoted CEOs (insiders) on CSP under the condition of financial distress. We argue that when firms experience financial distress, outsider CEOs can more quickly shift their attention and prioritize the interests of shareholders over other stakeholders than insider CEOs. Our study contributes to the strategic leadership and CSP literatures by offering new insights into how corporate leadership turnover and firm context may jointly shape new CEO’s decision-making in CSP engagement.

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Look for certain qualities to identify employees who will tackle a company’s sustainability challenges. We all know the traditional interview questions, such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Why do you want to work at our company?” But what do you ask if you’re looking for someone who can move the company toward better social and environmental performance? Research that colleagues and I have conducted provides some answers. In a series of studies, we have found that leaders who promote social and environmental issues are more likely to have: - environmental experience (whether personal or professional) - training in business rather than law, and - exposure to shifting trends in society. Looking for these qualities in managers’ backgrounds can help us identify leaders who will commit to sustainability agendas.

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What kind of leader can move companies toward better social and environmental performance? Research has shown that evaluating certain individual traits can help identify the leaders of tomorrow who will have the tools to address the serious sustainability challenges businesses face today. Former Erb Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Judith Walls describes these traits in “The Power of One: Leadership and Corporate Sustainability,” recently published in The European Business Review.

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This qualitative study of managers in the Mongolian mining industry examines the anteceding motivations and attitudinal consequences of conflicting managerial value orientations in the context of corporate sustainability. Grounding our insights in interviews with 28 mining managers, we find that tensions arise when managers hold apparently conflicting value orientations and act on these in the context of multiple institutional logics. In addition, managers experience a sharp conflict between their personal values and their professional roles as organizational decision-makers. We find that these tensions are not only driven by intrinsic values and instrumental motives for corporate sustainability, but also by the managers’ family upbringing and Mongolian identity. The managerial tensions are consequently manifested in managers’ individual affect and cognition towards corporate sustainability, and that the corporate sustainability actions can serve as a form of (individual-level) catharsis for them. These insights contribute to the paradox view of understanding tensions in corporate sustainability.

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According to institutional theory, isomorphism enables firms to acquire a license-to-operate and vital organizational resources. Yet, organizational fields often include small numbers of organizations that resist prevalent institutionalized norms. We study what sets institutional resistors apart from their conforming peers. We hypothesize that organizations with features which shield them from institutional pressures (reduced susceptibility) or compel them to ignore specific norms (reduced receptivity) are most likely to follow a strategy of institutional resistance. Empirically, we focus on major publicly traded corporations resisting mounting pressures to include women on boards. We find support for our hypotheses in a panel of S&P500 firms from 2003-2012. Specifically, all-male boards are more likely in firms which are comparatively less visible than their peers or primarily engage in business-to-business sales, reducing their susceptibility to institutional pressures. Moreover, all-male boards are more likely in firms with more inside directors, older directors, as well as those head-quartered in more conservative communities, reducing their receptivity for the institutional norm in question. We discuss implications for institutional theory and research on corporate social responsibility.

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We theoretically discuss and empirically show how CEO power based on environmental expertise and formal influence over executives and directors, in the absence and presence of shareholder activism, spurs firms toward greener strategies. Our results support the idea that CEOs with informal power, grounded in expertise, reduce corporate environmental impact and this relationship is amplified when the CEO also enjoys formal power over the board of directors. Additionally, we found that any source of CEO power, whether informal or formal, is a good catalyst for transforming shareholder activism into corporate greening. However, in the absence of such activism, only CEOs’ informal environmental expert power acts as a determinant of firm environmental performance.

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Shifting to dramatically more sustainable systems is an unconventional or wicked problem, encompassing multiple actors, disciplines, and values. Yet to date, sustainability initiatives have been tackled primarily by means of conventional managerial approaches. We contend that these approaches are ill suited for achieving sustainability transformations. We propose an alternative approach founded upon the sociological concept of robust action. In robust action, leaders embrace ambiguity (rather than striving for clarity), focus on short-term accomplishments (rather than long-term goals), and are satisfied with oblique movement (rather than linear progress). We elaborate on three robust strategies: participatory architecture, multi-vocal inscription and distributed experimentation and investigate their effectiveness in three sustainability related contexts: wind power, sustainability reporting and microcredit. We conclude by discussing the applicability of robust action to other contexts, and the complementarities between robust action and other forms of leadership towards sustainability.

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Most often, corporate governance is thought of as a mechanism put in place to protect shareholder wealth from the claws of opportunistic managers. In this sense, the term corporate governance typically arises alongside phrases such as investor myopia, short-term goals, incentive alignment, financial crisis, and even corporate misconduct and accounting fraud.

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In this report, we provide an analysis of existing disclosure regimes in the four Canadian provinces where fracking is actively taking place: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. We assess the effectiveness of these disclosure practices, benchmarked against current theoretical and empirical scientific knowledge. Note: Prepared under the auspices of SSHRC Imagining Canada’s Future initiative.

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Industrial symbiosis (IS) is a collaborative environmental action whereby firms share or exchange by-products, materials, energy, or waste as a way to economically reduce aggregate environmental impact. Research in IS has flourished over the past two decades, and the time is ripe for a coherent review of organizational perspectives on the topic, particularly since the practice of IS is rife with difficulties often attributed to “social” factors. We review the organizational perspectives found in IS literature using a two-dimensional framework considering the antecedents, consequences, lubricants, and limiters of IS assessed through institutional, network/system, organizational, and individual levels of analysis. Our framework highlights what organizational perspectives have been adopted so far and also points to avenues of future scholarship of this unique phenomenon.

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We contribute to the literature on firms’ responses to institutional pressures and environmental information disclosure. We hypothesize that CEO characteristics such as education and tenure will influence firms’ likelihood to voluntarily disclose environmental information. We test our hypotheses by examining firms’ responses to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and find that firms led by newly appointed CEOs and CEOs with MBA degrees are more likely to respond to the CDP, while those led by lawyers are less likely to respond. Our results have implications for research on strategic responses to institutional pressures and corporate environmental performance.

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Purpose – There are four criteria that people universally value: health, well-being, longevity, and environmental preservation. When these criteria are violated, a society becomes unsustainable. In order to preserve cultures, these four universal criteria therefore need to be taken into account. But nation states are no longer the dominant form of social organizing – corporations are. This raises questions about the role of corporations in preserving cultural values. How do corporations measure up to these four universal truths? Can corporations live up to these values, above and beyond financial performance, and does it matter? The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach – Amidst a shifting trend toward vertical individualism which emphasizes personal needs, status, and hierarchy, the paper argues that the universal truths are more important than ever in the consideration of corporate social responsibility. Findings – The paper concludes that although most companies claim to be attending to social and environmental issues, the current form of corporate governing is largely incapable of optimizing the four universally held values. Originality/value – The authors present some examples of corporations and corporate forms that appear to be heading in the “right” direction, but highlight that challenges remain. Nevertheless, the cross-culture literature can help inform the future of the relationship between business, society, and the natural environment.

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This paper explores the phenomenon of positive organizational deviance from institutional norms by establishing practices that protect or enhance the natural environment. Seeking to explain why some organizations practice positive environmental deviance while others do not, we locate our inquiry on the board of directors—the organizational body that interprets external issues and guides organizational response. We find a strong correlation between positive deviance and the past environmental experience of board directors and the centrality of the organization within field-level networks. Organizations located on the periphery of the network or whose boards possess a high level of environmental experience are more likely to deviate in positive ways. Our conclusions contribute to multiple literatures in behavioral and environmental governance, the role of filtering and enaction in the process of institutional conformity and change, and the mechanisms behind proactive environmental protection strategies within business.

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The emerging commercial farmers in Namibia represent a new category of farmer that has entered the freehold farming sector since Namibia’s independence in 1990. Several assessments of agricultural training needs have been carried out with these farmers but the issue of human– carnivore conflict has not yet been addressed. This study investigated one of the key components driving human– carnivore conflict, namely the attitudes of these farmers towards carnivores and how this affects the level of conflict and carnivore removal. We observed that the attitudes of these farmers are similar to farmers elsewhere. In general, farmers reported high levels of human–carnivore conflict. Many farmers perceived that they had a carnivore problem when sighting a carnivore or its tracks, even in the absence of verified carnivore depredation. Such sightings were a powerful incentive to prompt farmers to want to take action by removing carnivores, often believed to be the only way to resolve human–carnivore conflict. Nonetheless, our study showed that farmers who understood that carnivores play an ecological role had a more favourable attitude and were less likely to want all carnivores removed. We found that negative attitudes towards carnivores and loss of livestock, especially of small stock, predicted actual levels of human– carnivore conflict. Goat losses additionally predicted actual carnivore removals. We discuss the implications of our findings in relation to the activities of support structures for emerging commercial farmers in Namibia.

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Corporate governance scholars are increasingly interested in firms’ social and environmental performance. Empirical research in this area, however, has moved forward in an uncoordinated fashion, producing fragmented and contradictory results. Our paper seeks to address this situa- tion by adopting a fact-based research approach that comprehensively explores the link between corporate governance and environmental performance. Specifically, we aim to understand how the relationships between and among the firms’ owners, managers, and boards of directors influ- ence environmental performance. We are particularly interested in understanding the interactions among these three key sets of actors. In the end, we offer some observations about governance practices and discuss the implications for theory.

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Inconsistent results in prior work that link environmental strategy to com- petitive advantage may be due to the empirical difficulties of marrying the theoretical connection between a firm’s resource base and its environmental strategy. The authors contribute to the field by developing a measure that is congruent with the natural resource–based view, a dominant paradigm in this line of work. This article content analyses company reports and second- ary data to develop a measure of environmental strategy grounded in the natural resource–based view. They identify six environmental capabilities that form components of a reliable, multidimensional construct of proactive environmental strategy. They also identify a measure of reactive compliance strategy. They verify reliability of their new measure through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, establish convergent and discriminant validity via a multitrait, multimethod matrix and demonstrate superior predictive validity of their measure compared to two others commonly used in the literature. In the conclusion, they discuss implications for research and practice.

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The United States of America (U.S.) has been heralded as the world's premier engine of technological advance. However, recent criticisms suggest that its technological advance may slow relative to other nations. This chapter describes the U.S. National Innovation System, how it is evolving, and factors that threaten or reinforce its ability to generate technological innovations.A broadly encompassing encyclopedia on the emerging topic of technology innovation and management (TIM), this volume covers a wide array of issues. TIM is a relatively new field and is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating strategy and entrepreneurship, economics, marketing, organizational behavior, organization theory, physical and life sciences, and even law. All of these disciplines are represented in this volume, and their intersections are made clear. Entries are contributed by scholars from around the world who are leading experts in their respective topics. This volume is appropriate for scholars who are new to this particular field, as well as industry practitioners interested in understanding the state of knowledge in these specific areas. Entries may also serve as useful instructional materials, given their span of coverage as well as their currency.

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Over the past five years, we’ve seen sustainability steadily move from the periphery to the heart of business. Companies have adopted sustainability practices for a host of reasons depending on the industries and geographies in which they operate. Their practices—which focus on maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative effects on social, environmental and economic issues—contribute to a global movement committed to building a better world. Society clearly benefits from their actions. So do employees and shareholders. As many companies have learned, embedding sustainability practices across the organization translates into critical performance benefits such as revenue growth, cost reductions, better risk management and stronger brand positioning. Today’s economic downturn, driven in large part by the frozen global credit markets, has placed an immediate premium on liquidity. As a result, companies are casting a critical eye towards all investments and initiatives, including those focused on sustainability. Increasingly, sustainability programs are in the cross-hairs. Some are halted completely. Others are scaled back. Others are delayed.

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