“Norming” and “Conforming”: Integrating Cultural and Institutional Explanations for Sustainability Adoption in Business [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 110 (2):231-245 (2012)
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Abstract

Sustainability is increasingly a matter of concern in the corporate world. Many business scholars have analyzed the phenomenon from institutional and cultural perspectives, addressing the key questions of what drives the spread of sustainability principles, and also why sustainability adoption varies so widely among organizations and cultures. In this article, we propose that sustainability adoption can be better explained by integrating the insights from the institutional and cultural perspectives. This would break the current practice of choosing one approach or the other, a trend that has estranged these fields despite their obvious overlap in questions, core constructs, and theoretic arguments. We therefore introduce a model that emphasizes a dual-effect of culture—namely, culture plays a role in "norming" the proliferation of sustainability-relevant institutions, while also influencing the "conforming" to pressures for sustainability emanating from these institutions. We offer theoretic insights not only for explaining sustainability adoption but also for addressing the recognized challenge of bringing culture back into institutional theory

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