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Leadership role and employee acceptance of change: Implementing environmental sustainability strategies within Nordic insurance companies

Lara Johannsdottir (School of Business, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.)
Snjolfur Olafsson (School of Business, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.)
Brynhildur Davidsdottir (Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Economics, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 9 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The change management literature on strategy implementation identifies different dimensions of resistance to change. The contrary view – that of dimensions of acceptance of change when implementing strategy – has received less attention. The purpose of this paper is to explore the implementation of environmental sustainability strategies by Nordic insurers, the role of leadership in implementing these changes, and employee acceptance of change.

Design/methodology/approach

For achieving this purpose, this paper reports on an explanatory case study of Nordic non-life insurers, where interviews with insurance executives and specialists were the primary source of data.

Findings

The authors have developed simple strategy maps, focusing on insurers’ own operations, product offerings, loss prevention and claims settlements, investments and influence on stakeholders, to show how common elements of environmental strategies are implemented within the insurance industry. The importance of leadership in organizational change is evident in the data, as well as in employees’ positive attitudes towards implementation of environmental sustainability strategies.

Originality/value

The scientific contribution of this paper is the empirical mapping of a hitherto unexplored area of the implementation of environmental sustainability strategies within the Nordic insurance industry, highlighting the leadership role in implementing environmental sustainability strategies and the elements shaping employee acceptance of change when implementing environmental sustainability strategies.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Nordic insurance experts and specialists for the permission to be interviewed and the anonymous referees for helpful suggestions that have substantially improved this paper. The authors would also like to thank those partly providing funds for the study, including Landsvirkjun Energy Fund, Orkuveita Reykjavíkur Environmental and Energy Fund, Erasmus Programme of Student Mobility for Study or Placement, Pálmi Jónson Nature Conservation Fund, RioTintoAlcan Community Fund, the Nordic Centre of Excellence for Strategic Adaptation Research (NORD-STAR), Nordic Climate change Adaptation Research Network (NORDCLAD-Net), Nordic Climate Mitigation, Adaptation and Economic Policies (N-CMAEP) Network, School of Business University of Iceland, and SHÍ Student Fund.

Citation

Johannsdottir, L., Olafsson, S. and Davidsdottir, B. (2015), "Leadership role and employee acceptance of change: Implementing environmental sustainability strategies within Nordic insurance companies ", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 72-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-12-2013-0238

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited