Date of Award

5-5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)

Department

Business

First Advisor

Mark Keil

Second Advisor

Detmar Straub

Third Advisor

Steve Olson

Abstract

Companies are under increasing pressure from every category of stakeholder, from government and community to supply chain and consumer, to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations, products and services. To be most successful with environmental sustainability improvement initiatives, a company must have the commitment and effort of its employees. The purpose of this research is to study the effect of the company’s approach to the initiative on the level of employee commitment to the company’s environmental sustainability goals.

This research was conducted with a two-factor, factorial experiment. The experimental factors were construal level and small wins framing. Each of these factors had two levels, creating a 2x2 design with four treatment level combinations. A third study factor was environmental concern. Four other variables, goal difficulty, perceived organizational efficacy, gender and age, were included in the model as control variables. The dependent variable was goal commitment. Approximately 150 participants were recruited for the experiment and randomly assigned to one of the four fixed, treatment combinations. Hierarchical regression was used to estimate the factors’ main and interaction effects, as well as the significance of the control variables.

Neither of the two manipulated variables, construal level and small wins, was found to have a significant main effect on goal commitment. There were, however, significant interactions between environmental concern and construal level, and between environmental concern and small wins framing, on goal commitment. At high levels of environmental concern, the effects of construal level and small wins were as hypothesized, but at low levels of environmental concern, the effects of construal level and small wins were opposite of what was expected. Additionally, both organizational efficacy and gender were found to significantly affect one’s goal commitment.

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