Involving Corporate Functions: Who Contributes to Sustainable Development?

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A large body of literature claims that corporate sustainable development is a cross-functional challenge, which requires all functional units to be involved. However, it remains uncertain to what extent and in which way different corporate functions are actually involved in corporate sustainability management. To bridge this research gap, our paper draws on a concept of involvement introduced in the field of consumer behavior. Based on this previous research, our paper distinguishes two components of involvement: first, a cognitive-affective component, incorporating being affected by sustainability issues and being supportive of corporate sustainability; and second, a behavioral component, represented by the application of sustainability management tools. We use this concept to empirically analyze the involvement of corporate functions in sustainability management and find considerable differences in large German companies. Whereas public relations and strategic management are heavily involved, finance, accounting and management control appear not to be involved. A multinomial logistic regression shows that the cognitive-affective component significantly influences the behavioral component, with a functional unit being affected influencing the application of tools the most. Building on the model proposed, the paper provides implications on how to increase a functional unit's involvement in sustainability management.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)3064-3085
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 05.2014