Fifty shades of green: how microfoundations of sustainability dynamic capabilities vary across organizational contexts

Karoline Strauss, Jan Lepoutre, Geoffrey Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Because making progress on sustainability-related challenges will require organizational change for most organizations, understanding sustainability dynamic capabilities is of utmost importance. In this theoretical paper, we aim to identify the microfoundations of such sustainability dynamic capabilities on the one hand but, consistent with recent work in this research stream, we do so in a way that is sensitive to the dynamism of the organizational environment. We propose that the microfoundations of sustainability dynamic capabilities will take different forms in different contexts. We contrast moderately dynamic contexts characterized by frequent yet relatively predictable change with highly dynamic contexts in which changes are rapid and not predictable. Achieving sustainability in these different types of contexts poses different types of challenges, relies on different forms of employee behaviors, and is consequently enabled by different individual-level characteristics and different organizational practices and processes. Our paper calls for a more serious consideration of context in investigating how employees' behaviors can affect sustainability at the organizational level, and outlines the implications for organizational policy and practice. We explore directions for future interdisciplinary research on sustainability that focuses on individuals and their interactions while also taking the environment within which organizations operate into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1338-1355
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Employee green behavior
  • Microfoundations
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Sustainability

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