Building Sustainability Competence from the Top Down: A Model for Researching and Improving Boards of Directors’ Influence on Firms’ Sustainability Performance

Ron Sanchez, Jeremy Galbreath, Gavin Nicholson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    In this paper we develop a model for researching the influence that a board of directors can have on improving an organization’s sustainability performance. Our model explores sources of cognitive flexibility of boards needed to recognize and respond to the need for improved sustainability performance. We first define concepts of sustainability, sustainability competence, and sustainability performance. We then analyze two forms of board capital (a board’s human capital and its social capital) and three aspects of a board’s information processing (its patterns of information search, discussion and debate, and information absorption) that we suggest affect a board’s cognitive flexibility and thereby influence whether a board decides to adopt sustainability performance goals. Our model also suggests that an organization’s strategic flexibility – as represented by its current endowments of resource flexibilities and coordination flexibilities – will moderate the relationship between a board’s decision to adopt sustainability performance goals and an organization’s subsequent achievement of those goals. We also suggest that our model is generally relevant to any research seeking to predict the influence of boards on strategic change in many forms, not just to research focused on sustainability issues.
    In this paper we develop a model for researching the influence that a board of directors can have on improving an organization’s sustainability performance. Our model explores sources of cognitive flexibility of boards needed to recognize and respond to the need for improved sustainability performance. We first define concepts of sustainability, sustainability competence, and sustainability performance. We then analyze two forms of board capital (a board’s human capital and its social capital) and three aspects of a board’s information processing (its patterns of information search, discussion and debate, and information absorption) that we suggest affect a board’s cognitive flexibility and thereby influence whether a board decides to adopt sustainability performance goals. Our model also suggests that an organization’s strategic flexibility – as represented by its current endowments of resource flexibilities and coordination flexibilities – will moderate the relationship between a board’s decision to adopt sustainability performance goals and an organization’s subsequent achievement of those goals. We also suggest that our model is generally relevant to any research seeking to predict the influence of boards on strategic change in many forms, not just to research focused on sustainability issues.
    LanguageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMid-Range Management Theory : Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities
    EditorsRon Sanchez, Aimé Heene, Seckin Polat, Umut Asan
    Place of PublicationBingley
    PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
    Date2017
    Pages69-107
    ISBN (Print)9781787144040
    ISBN (Electronic)9781787144033, 9781787149236
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2017
    SeriesResearch in Competence-Based Management
    Volume8
    ISSN1744-2117

    Keywords

    • Sustainability
    • Boards of directors
    • Board capital
    • Information processing
    • Strategic flexibility
    • Resource flexibility
    • Coordination flexibility

    Cite this

    Sanchez, R., Galbreath, J., & Nicholson, G. (2017). Building Sustainability Competence from the Top Down: A Model for Researching and Improving Boards of Directors’ Influence on Firms’ Sustainability Performance. In R. Sanchez, A. Heene, S. Polat, & U. Asan (Eds.), Mid-Range Management Theory: Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities (pp. 69-107). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. Research in Competence-Based Management, Vol.. 8, DOI: 10.1108/S1744-211720170000008004
    Sanchez, Ron ; Galbreath, Jeremy ; Nicholson, Gavin. / Building Sustainability Competence from the Top Down : A Model for Researching and Improving Boards of Directors’ Influence on Firms’ Sustainability Performance. Mid-Range Management Theory: Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities. editor / Ron Sanchez ; Aimé Heene ; Seckin Polat ; Umut Asan. Bingley : Emerald Group Publishing, 2017. pp. 69-107 (Research in Competence-Based Management, ???volume??? 8).
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    Sanchez, R, Galbreath, J & Nicholson, G 2017, Building Sustainability Competence from the Top Down: A Model for Researching and Improving Boards of Directors’ Influence on Firms’ Sustainability Performance. in R Sanchez, A Heene, S Polat & U Asan (eds), Mid-Range Management Theory: Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities. Emerald Group Publishing, Bingley, Research in Competence-Based Management, vol. 8, pp. 69-107. DOI: 10.1108/S1744-211720170000008004

    Building Sustainability Competence from the Top Down : A Model for Researching and Improving Boards of Directors’ Influence on Firms’ Sustainability Performance. / Sanchez, Ron; Galbreath, Jeremy; Nicholson, Gavin.

    Mid-Range Management Theory: Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities. ed. / Ron Sanchez; Aimé Heene; Seckin Polat; Umut Asan. Bingley : Emerald Group Publishing, 2017. p. 69-107.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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    Sanchez R, Galbreath J, Nicholson G. Building Sustainability Competence from the Top Down: A Model for Researching and Improving Boards of Directors’ Influence on Firms’ Sustainability Performance. In Sanchez R, Heene A, Polat S, Asan U, editors, Mid-Range Management Theory: Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. 2017. p. 69-107. (Research in Competence-Based Management, Vol. 8). Available from, DOI: 10.1108/S1744-211720170000008004