Competing corporate sustainability perceptions in a global retail organization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose is to explore the different and often contradictory perceptions individual managershave about corporate sustainability within a global retailer.

Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative case study method is used, including interviews anddocument studies. The authors study the global retailer IKEA. In total the authors have interviewed respondents on both the global level and the country level, within the sustainability organization as well ascorporate, sales and communication management. The study includes managers in Sweden, the UK andGermany.

Findings – The research is based on institutional theory, focusing upon cognitive and normative aspects; theauthors propose that managers may have a proactive, forceful view on sustainability or a reactive view. These need to coexist. The authors also show how global retailers can balance sustainability goals with otherbusiness considerations, as well as about the implications of the sustainability approach for the retailer’sbusiness model.

Practical implications – Retail managers need to recognize and integrate the contradictory views onsustainability that managers hold. The authors show how sustainability can be given different impactdepending on the context and the strategic issue it is linked to.

Originality/value – Most studies have focused on how sustainability is managed on an organizational leveland how different goals can co-exist. The authors’ focus is on individual managers and their perceptions ofsustainability – what it includes, how they want to manage sustainability issues, and the priority it shouldbe given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449
JournalInternational Journal of Retail & Distribution Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Economics and Business (502)


  • Conflicting views
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Global retailer
  • Institutional perspective
  • Manager perceptions


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