It’s Just Not Sexy : How Managerial Assumptions Adversely Affect Corporate Sustainability Engagement and Sustainable Technology Adoption

Institute for Computer Science and Business Information Systems, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45141 Essen, Germany
Alsdorf, Helge
The negative effects of the global climate disruption are becoming increasingly severe, and they are putting pressure on companies to behave in a more environmentally friendly manner. Although some have started to (ecologically) innovate and acquire sustainable resources and capabilities, some seem to be only reluctantly adopting sustainability. In this paper, we report on two consecutive qualitative studies in which we investigated this divergence. In the first—which involved 25 interviewed sustainability managers from a diverse set of German companies—we found that: (i) sustainability was perceived as unattractive and not innovative; (ii) the benefits of sustainable technologies only seemed to be beneficial in the long term, and in non-traditional dimensions; (iii) Green IT/IS usage often only focuses on end-of-the-pipe measures. In the second study, we discussed these findings with four representatives from two very large German companies, and we concluded that—to become sustainable and make meaningful use of sustainable (IT/IS) technologies—they require external incentives from core interest groups, such as legislators and investors. This study contributes to the current body of knowledge regarding corporate environmental responsibility, and it may be of assistance to practitioners, as it highlights the drivers and potential hindrances of sustainable innovation adoption.


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