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Special Issue "Organizational Sustainability: Theory, Culture, and Practice"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 April 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Joel Gehman

Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability; innovation; strategy; organization theory; values
Guest Editor
Dr. Lianne M. Lefsrud

Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability; risk management; technology adoption; organization theory; discourse

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability—commonly defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs [1–3]—is an issue of concern to many organizations, including for-profit businesses, not-for-profit charities and foundations, cooperative organizations, hybrid organizations seeking a blend of purpose and profit, and governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, among others.

One key way organizations contribute to sustainability—for better or worse—is through their practices. Past research has considered a wide variety of organizational practices, such as sustainability reporting [4], various labor practices [5], the role sustainability certifications [6,7], and the effects of temporal and discursive understandings on responses to climate change [8,9], to name just a few. Other research has emphasized the importance of cultural factors, including institutional pressures, regulatory changes, social movements, and media pressure [10–14]. Others have approached the question of organizational sustainability in terms of entrepreneurial efforts [15,16] and technological innovations [17,18]. Looking beyond their own boundaries, scholars have begun to examine how organizations can contribute to solving so-called grand challenges, such as poverty, hunger, water scarcity, inequality and so forth [19–21]. Picking up on these themes, this Special Issue welcomes both theoretical and empirical papers that advance our understanding of organizational sustainability.

Dr. Joel Gehman
Dr. Lianne M. Lefsrud
Guest Editors


  1. Kuhlman, T.; Farrington, J. What is Sustainability? Sustainability 2010, 2, 3436–3448, doi:10.3390/su2113436.
  2. Garud, R.; Gehman, J. Metatheoretical perspectives on sustainability journeys: Evolutionary, relational and durational. Res. Policy 2012, 41, 980–995.
  3. World Commission on Environment and Development Our Common Future; Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA, 1987.
  4. Etzion, D.; Ferraro, F. The role of analogy in the institutionalization of sustainability reporting. Organ. Sci. 2010, 21, 1092–1107, doi:10.1287/orsc.1090.0494.
  5. Storey, K. Fly-in/Fly-out: Implications for Community Sustainability. Sustainability 2010, 2, 1161–1181, doi:10.3390/su2051161.
  6. Carlos, W. C.; Lewis, B.W. Strategic Silence: Withholding Certification Status as a Hypocrisy Avoidance Tactic. Adm. Sci. Q. 2017, 0001839217695089, doi:10.1177/0001839217695089.
  7. Gehman, J.; Grimes, M. Hidden Badge of Honor: How Contextual Distinctiveness Affects Category Promotion among Certified B Corporations. Acad. Manage. J. 2017, 60, 2294–2320, doi:10.5465/amj.2015.0416.
  8. Lefsrud, L. M.; Meyer, R. E. Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change. Organ. Stud. 2012, 33, 1477–1506, doi:10.1177/0170840612463317.
  9. Slawinski, N.; Bansal, P. A Matter of Time: The Temporal Perspectives of Organizational Responses to Climate Change. Organ. Stud. 2012, 33, 1537–1563, doi:10.1177/0170840612463319.
  10. Bansal, P. Evolving sustainably: A longitudinal study of corporate sustainable development. Strateg. Manag. J. 2005, 26, 197–218, doi:10.1002/smj.441.
  11. Hoffman, A.J. From heresy to dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism; Stanford University Press: Stanford, CA, USA, 2001; Vol. Expanded; ISBN 0001-4273.
  12. Jennings, P.D.; Zandbergen, P.A. Ecologically sustainable organizations: An institutional approach. Acad. Manage. Rev. 1995, 20, 1015–1052.
  13. Lounsbury, M. Institutional sources of practice variation: Staffing college and university recycling programs. Adm. Sci. Q. 2001, 46, 29–56.
  14. Doshi, A.R.; Dowell, G.W.S.; Toffel, M.W. How Firms Respond to Mandatory Information Disclosure. Strateg. Manag. J. 2013, 34, 1209–1231, doi:10.1002/smj.2055.
  15. York, J.G.; Lenox, M.J. Exploring the sociocultural determinants of de novo versus de alio entry in emerging industries. Strateg. Manag. J. 2014, 35, 1930–1951, doi:10.1002/smj.2187.
  16. Miller, T.L.; Grimes, M.G.; McMullen, J.S.; Vogus, T.J. Venturing for Others with Heart and Head: How Compassion Encourages Social Entrepreneurship. Acad. Manage. Rev. 2012, 37, 616–640, doi:10.5465/amr.2010.0456.
  17. Kapoor, R.; Furr, N.R. Complementarities and Competition: Unpacking the Drivers of Entrants’ Technology Choices in the Solar Photovoltaic Industry. Strateg. Manag. J. 2015, 36, 416–436, doi:10.1002/smj.2223.
  18. Hargadon, A. Sustainable Innovation: Build Your Company’s Capacity to Change the World; Stanford University Press: Stanford, CA, USA, 2015; ISBN 978-0-8047-9502-9.
  19. Ferraro, F.; Etzion, D.; Gehman, J. Tackling grand challenges pragmatically: Robust action revisited. Organ. Stud. 2015, 36, 363–390, doi:10.1177/0170840614563742.
  20. George, G.; Howard-Grenville, J.; Joshi, A.; Tihanyi, L. Understanding and tackling societal grand challenges through management research. Acad. Manage. J. 2016, 59, 1880–1895, doi:10.5465/amj.2016.4007.
  21. Gehman, J.; Lounsbury, M.; Greenwood, R. How Institutions Matter: From the Micro Foundations of Institutional Impacts to the Macro Consequences of Institutional Arrangements. In How Institutions Matter!; Gehman, J., Lounsbury, M., Greenwood, R., Eds.; Research in the Sociology of Organizations; Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Bingley, UK, 2016; Vol. 48A, pp. 1–34.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • sustainability
  • organization theory
  • entrepreneurship and innovation
  • culture
  • grand challenges

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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