Patagonia: Driving Sustainable Innovation by Embracing Tensions

Dara O'Rourke, Robert Strand

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This article examines the tensions that arise when Patagonia simultaneously pursues sustainability and quality objectives embedded within its mission statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Specifically, this case study focuses on Patagonia’s durable water repellent (DWR) problem. DWR is a highly effective chemical treatment used to waterproof jackets (supporting the quality objective) but has by-products that are toxic and persist in the environment (undermining the sustainability objective). This case explores the challenges Patagonia has faced and presents some creative solutions to them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCalifornia Management Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)102-125
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Supply chain
  • Environmental responsibility

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