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Strategic Leadership of Corporate Sustainability

Recent dedication to corporate sustainability responsibilities has lead to the marrying of both strategic leadership and corporate sustainability. Many of those who hold these positions (called ‘Chief Sustainability Officers’) find themselves at the top of the hierarchy of many of the most successful firms, holding similar sway to CEOs and CFOs. This paper investigates both why sustainability positions are now being held in such regard and what effects corporate sustainability has on these firms. To answer these queries, this paper examines neo-institutional theoretical frameworks as well as Weberian considerations of bureaucracy. Strand finds that in response to a situation where the validity of an institution is called into question, often corporate sustainability positions arise as a potential solution. These CSO positions are also sometimes created to take advantage of outside opportunities that have not been fully realized. Strand also found that recently many of these positions are being removed, despite only having been recently created. He concludes that successful creation of bureaucratic structure is the key to sustaining sustainability even after the position has been removed.
Robert Strand
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