Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to fill the void of empirical cross‐industry research in the area of corporate sustainability management and its business case. Design/methodology/approach – Nine industries (oil and gas, utility, aviation, automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, technology, financial services and food and beverage) are compared in terms of their environmental and social issues, the pressure they face from their stakeholders, and the resulting business case for corporate sustainability. For this approach, a mixed methods design was employed featuring semi‐structured interviews with managers (sustainability experts, business managers from various functions) and external stakeholders); and self‐completion questionnaires (also targeting sustainability experts and business managers) to collect complementary quantitative data. It was possible to draw upon more than 400 interviews and 1,100 questionnaires. Findings – It was ascertained that the business case is clearly sector‐specific and difficult for companies to build for several reasons: limited relevance of social and environmental risks and opportunities to companies' core business; numerous and highly‐fragmented stakeholder demands; and lack of basic organizational capacities to collect and process relevant data. Originality/value – This paper is primarily relevant to practitioners. It looks beyond the usual “sustainability rhetoric”, as it provides a much differentiated (since cross‐industry) view on the drivers and barriers to corporate sustainability.
Corporate Governance – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 17, 2007
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility; Food industry; Process analysis; Business performance