Routine Rigidity and Environmental Sustainability: Why Rational Innovations are Regularly Ignored

Kenneth Dooley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Rigidities describe the sluggishness of an organization's response in the face of discontinuous external change, and routine rigidity is the failure to change the organization's processes. This article aims to provide empirical evidence that substantiates the relevance of routine rigidity in the discussion on environmental sustainability. A qualitative approach employs a logic model to analyse two sequences of events and tracks the implementation of innovations that had been overlooked for some time. The evidence shows that the selected organizational innovations were previously inhibited by a failure to change the organization's formal processes and informal cultural norms. This is especially true of innovations that altered the daily routines of the focal firm's employees and of innovations that potentially alienated customers. The characteristics of the innovations (high impact and low barrier to implementation) indicate that firms are now less able to justify inaction through the traditional barriers of environmentally focused innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-81
Number of pages12
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number1
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Environmental policy
  • Organizational inertia
  • Organizational innovation
  • Routine rigidity
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Sustainable development


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