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Publication Date


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Business Strategy and the Environment


case survey methodology; configuration theory; corporate environmental performance; equifinality; stakeholder engagement; sustainability.


We examine 45 existing case studies of firms with strong corporate environmental performance (CEP) to empirically identify four organizational configurations for successful sustainability. These four configurations represent different combinations of variables describing a firm’s external environment, organizational structure, and its strategy-related activities. More specifically, these configurations vary in having a benign or challenging external environment, a mechanistic or organic structure, a low-cost or differentiation strategy, hands-on or hands-off participation by the top-management-team, high or low consideration given to stakeholders, and a short or long-term time orientation. Taken together the four organizational configurations introduce an understanding of equifinality for achieving CEP. In other words, given an adequate variety of ingredients, there are multiple recipes for successful sustainability. Implications for scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers and other stakeholders are discussed.


Author's pre-print of a forthcoming publication in Business and Society Review. The definitive version is available at