How Standards Enable the Creation of Sustainable Construction as a New Category

Eva Boxenbaum, Susse Georg, Gabriela Lucía Garza de Linde, Satu Reijonen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This paper examines the role of standards in creating new categories. More specifically, we analyzed the formation of sustainable construction as a new category of organizational activity. Data were derived from four qualitative studies on mandatory regulation and voluntary guidelines pertaining to sustainability within the Danish construction industry. On the basis of these studies, we propose that categories emerge in the form of mandatory rules and voluntary guidelines that 1) stimulate innovations and encourage other actors to adopt this innovation, 2) simultaneously establish the qualities or characteristics of associated technologies and practices based on the development of calculative devices and material exemplars, and 3) generate boundaries around a distinct group of organizations that becomes associated with the emergent category. As more organizations adopt the standardized technologies/practices, the category becomes consolidated and legitimated, which helps to mobilize yet others to take similar actions, thus, underscoring the category’s characteristics. We conclude with implications for organizational research on category formation as well as implications for the practice of sustainable construction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventRethinking Organizations: A GEM-CASS-CBS Workshop - EM Grenoble, Grenoble, France
Duration: 6 Feb 20147 Feb 2014


WorkshopRethinking Organizations
LocationEM Grenoble
Internet address

Cite this