Strengthening or restricting? Explaining the Covid-19 pandemic’s configurational effects on companies’ sustainability strategies and practices

Ralph Hamann, Alecia Sewlal, Neeveditah Pariag-Maraye, Judy Muthuri, Kenneth Amaeshi, Ijeoma Nwagwu, Jenny Soderbergh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We explore the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on companies’ sustainability strategies and practices. Prior research has identified a number of factors that shape such effects, including crisis severity, resource slack, and prior investments, but their interactions have not been given much attention. We thus collected qualitative data on 25 companies in four African countries, which we analysed inductively and iteratively through cross-case comparison and with fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis. We identify two pathways associated with strengthening responses (“building on strengths” and “governance gap-filling”) and three associated with restricting responses (“hard hit,” “low-road business-as-usual,” and “bunkering down”). Our findings enhance our understanding of organisational responses to crises by attending to configurational effects and by foregrounding the role of governance contexts. We describe implications for future research and for managers, investors, and sustainability initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness & Society
Early online date29 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • crisis
  • threat-rigidity
  • Covid-19
  • sustainability
  • strategy
  • Africa

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