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Institutional pressure and the implementation of corporate environment practices: examining the mediating role of absorptive capacity

Shubham (Department of Operations and Systems, Indian Institute of Management, Raipur, India)
Parikshit Charan (Indian Institute of Management, Raipur, India)
L.S. Murty (Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 31 May 2018

Issue publication date: 4 September 2018

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905

Abstract

Purpose

Contemporary frameworks on institutional theory and corporate environmentalism observe that institutional fields positively influence a firm’s environmental response in the form of implementation of environmental practices. These frameworks, however, provide little evidence on why firms facing similar institutional field differ in their environmental response. This paper aims to incorporate the intra-organizational dynamics within the traditional institutional theory framework to address this heterogeneity, examining specifically the role of absorptive capacity for environmental knowledge in the organizational implementation of corporate environmental practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Integrating the institutional theory and resource-based view, this paper examines the mediating role of absorptive capacity in the relationship between institutional pressure for corporate environmentalism vis-a-vis the implementation of corporate environmental practices. Partial least square structural equation modeling was used for hypotheses testing based on data obtained from the Indian apparel and textile industry.

Findings

The results support the mediating role of absorptive capacity in the relationship between institutional pressure and implementation of corporate environmental practices. Further, this study highlights the importance of acquisition and utilization of environmental knowledge in driving environmentalism through developing absorptive capacity; the findings also suggest that the role of institutional pressure in the implementation of environmental practices should not be analyzed in isolation but rather in conjunction with the development of absorptive capacity that forms the internal basis of implementation.

Practical implications

Managers need to focus on the development of organizational capabilities for acquiring and exploiting environmental knowledge to complement their preparedness in responding to any institutional pressures for environmental sustainability. Firms also need to link their environmental orientation with various sources of environmental knowledge and capabilities residing outside the organizational boundaries. It is important to note here that the development of absorptive capacities for the exploration and exploitation of external knowledge is indeed both required and necessary to build sustainable organizational capabilities.

Originality/value

This paper is among the very few studies that address the issue of knowledge and development of related organizational capabilities for corporate environmentalism. Recognizing that environmental knowledge resides outside organizational boundaries with regulatory agencies and special interest groups, this paper highlights the importance of developing organizational capabilities for the acquisition and exploitation of environmental knowledge.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are indebted to the Editor Prof Manlio Del Giudice, Prof Elias Carayannis and the anonymous reviewers for their highly rigorous, developmental and constructive guidance. This research has benefitted significantly from their feedback.

Citation

, S., Charan, P. and Murty, L.S. (2018), "Institutional pressure and the implementation of corporate environment practices: examining the mediating role of absorptive capacity", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 22 No. 7, pp. 1591-1613. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-12-2016-0531

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited