See the good, speak the good, do the good: three essays on organizational change for sustainability Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Gallo, Peter Jack
    • Affiliation: Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • This research provides a descriptive analysis of radical organizational change in the context of corporate adoption of sustainability policies. The study consists of three essays which focus on three different aspects of change towards sustainability. The first essay uses survey data from 922 senior-level executives and is aimed at understanding how the concept of sustainability is framed by organizations and their managers. By contrasting the practical application of sustainability principles with the varied academic definitions in the literature, this essay provides a further refinement on the theoretical understanding of corporate sustainability. Survey results demonstrate a widespread use of uni-dimensional definitions of sustainability, and there is evidence that size and ownership impact the dimensionality of managers' sustainability definitions. The second essay investigates how organizations determine the content of a change process. In particular, it tests whether the diffusion of a specific environmental practice (implementation of environmental management systems) is directed by institutional pressures. I argue that change may be suboptimal if the choice of change is driven by these institutional pressures rather than by firm specific contingencies. Therefore, this essay examines one mechanism by which action towards organizational change can fail to attain beneficial results for the organization. The study finds that institutional pressures do impact the adoption of environmental practices; however the direction of impact for mimetic pressures is in the opposite direction of that theorized. These results reveal some interesting differences between mimetic pressures for market versus non-market driven corporate objectives. The final essay analyzes the process and implementation of organizational change toward sustainability. Using a simulation methodology this essay studies how different change sequences impact the duration and performance of a change process. The simulations show that the sequence in which different organizational elements are changed does indeed impact the length of the period of organizational transformation. The results also demonstrate a relationship between sequence and a firm's ability to maintain or recover competencies during a period of transition. With these three essays, my dissertation captures the evolution of organizational change by analyzing; 1) how the need for change is framed, 2) what organizational elements are selected for adaptation, and 3) the order in which these elements are changed.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Kenan-Flagler Business School (Strategy and Entrepreneurship)."
  • Segars, Albert H.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

This work has no parents.