Climate change, consumer lifestyles and legitimation strategies of sustainability-oriented firms
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonArslan, A. Haapanen, L. Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, P. Tarba, S. Y. Alon, I.(2021). Climate change, consumer lifestyles and legitimation strategies of sustainability-oriented firms. European Management Journal 39(6), 720-730. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2021.03.005
This study explores the links between climate change, consumer lifestyles, and legitimation strategies of sustainable firms. Our findings offer new insight into this under-researched area based on qualitative case studies of four Nordic firms operating in industrial and consumer contexts. We find that climate change consciousness is a major driver for all case firms’ sustainability-focused operations, but the dynamics differed. Achieving sociopolitical legitimacy emerges as an important factor for the case firms operating in the energy sector, especially as it connects to government incentives and regulative pressures. However, cognitive legitimacy is increasingly important for them also, and the firms are trying to connect to their consumers’ lifestyles as well. In turn, for the case firms operating in the consumer (clothing) industry, functionality and the use of products are highlighted even though cognitive legitimacy based on linking to their consumers’ lifestyle is visible. Finally, the findings reveal that despite the sustainable lifestyles are increasingly important and better recognized in firm strategies and practices, other practicalities of running the business successfully in a highly competitive marketplace are relevant. Building legitimacy in such a way that captures and justifies different approaches, therefore, emerges as the connecting factor between the changing consumer behavior and pro-environmental firm practices.