Chapter | The Oxford Handbook of Business and the Environment | 2012

Institutional Pressures and Organizational Characteristics: Implications for Environmental Strategy

by Magali A. Delmas and Michael W. Toffel


A broad literature has emerged over the past decades demonstrating that firms' environmental strategies and practices are influenced by stakeholders and institutional pressures. Such findings are consistent with institutional sociology, which emphasizes the importance of regulatory, normative, and cognitive factors in shaping firms' decisions to adopt specific organizational practices, above and beyond their technical efficiency. Similarly, institutional theory emphasizes legitimation processes and the tendency for institutionalized organizational structures and procedures to be taken for granted, regardless of their efficiency implications. However, the institutional perspective does not address the fundamental issue of business strategy necessary to explain the persistence of substantially different strategies among firms that are subjected to comparable levels of institutional pressures. In this chapter, we present current research arguing that such firms adopt heterogeneous sets of environmental management practices despite facing common institutional pressures because organizational characteristics lead managers to interpret these pressures differently.

Keywords: Management Practices and Processes; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Natural Environment; Business Strategy;


Delmas, Magali A., and Michael W. Toffel. "Institutional Pressures and Organizational Characteristics: Implications for Environmental Strategy." In The Oxford Handbook of Business and the Environment, edited by Pratima Bansal and Andrew J. Hoffman. Oxford University Press, 2012.