University of Oulu

Arslan, 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.

Climate change, consumer lifestyles and legitimation strategies of sustainability-oriented firms

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Author: Arslan, Ahmad1; Haapanen, Lauri1; Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia1;
Organizations: 1Department of Marketing, Management & International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Finland
2Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, UK
3School of Business and Law, University of Agder, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-03-30


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.

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Series: European management journal
ISSN: 0263-2373
ISSN-E: 1873-5681
ISSN-L: 0263-2373
Volume: 39
Issue: 6
Pages: 720 - 730
DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2021.03.005
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (