Individual Environmental Initiative: Championing Natural Environmental Issues in U.S.Business OrganizationsAuthor(s): Lynne M. Andersson and Thomas S. BatemanSource: The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Aug., 2000), pp. 548-570Published by: Academy of ManagementStable URL: .Accessed: 01/03/2011 16:48

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . .

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Academy of Management is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Academyof Management Journal.

? Academy of Management Journal 2000, Vol. 43, No. 4, 548-570.



LYNNE M. ANDERSSON Temple University

THOMAS S. BATEMAN University of Virginia

Several bodies of literature contributed to a framework describing how three activi- ties-identifying, packaging, and selling-can lead to successful environmental cham- pioning. The results of a field study comparing successful and unsuccessful champi- oning episodes in U.S. business organizations supported the framework. Specifically, individuals who successfully championed environmental issues engaged in more en- vironmental scanning, employed particular framing dimensions and presentation styles, and used several influence tactics. For some championing behaviors, successful outcomes depended on the strength of a company's environmental paradigm.

Which actors and what actions make a difference in ameliorating or preventing environmental prob- lems? Many environmentalists fear that only an environmental crisis of enormous magnitude will be sufficient to stimulate the public into denounc- ing widely held industrialist values (McLaughlin, 1993). Others, however, believe that individual ac- tion can help instigate widespread awareness of the depth of environmental issues and the need for a paradigmatic change (Stern, 1992).

Over the past decade, an important area of re- search concerning actors and actions has been the role of individuals in determining how business organizations affect the natural environment (Starik, 1995; Stern, 1992). The power of individual initiative in creating action on environmental is- sues has been suggested in the literature on corpo- rate environmental management (e.g., Morrison, 1991; Rappaport & Dillon, 1991; Starik & Rands, 1995; Winn, 1995). For example, individuals such as Michael Roberts at McDonald's and David Buz- zelli at Dow Chemical were lauded in the popular press for launching extensive environmental pro- grams within their organizations (Hume, 1991; Rice, 1993). Nonetheless, prior to the present study, little research has addressed the process through which individuals help to transform ambiguous en- vironmental issues into organizational actions. In our research, we attempt to explain how individu-

We would like to thank Mike Berry, Chris Pearson, and Ben Rosen for their helpful comments on drafts of this article. We are also very grateful to Mark Starik and the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback.

als, as environmental champions, convince and en- able organization members to turn environmental issues into successful corporate programs and in- novations.


Environmental issues have become increasingly important to industry worldwide (Schmidheiny, 1992). However, agreement does not exist in the business community as to what the relevant envi- ronmental issues are, how serious they are, and how they should be addressed. A study of senior executives in American businesses performed by Booz-Allen in 1991 revealed that a majority (67%) believed that environmental issues were extremely important to their companies, and yet only a small minority (7%) were confident that they understood the environmental issues that their companies faced (Newman & Breeden, 1992).

Viewed together as a distinct class of corporate issues, environmental issues are often difficult for managers to comprehend, for several reasons. First, many managers consider environmental issues to be too complex and scientific, encrypted in diffi- cult technical language, and therefore undetectable and incalculable (Shrivastava, 1995; Stead & Stead, 1992; Stern, 1992). Second, environmental issues are usually direct results of industrial activity, and thus managers face the difficulties of acknowledg- ing fault and changing business systems to counter the detrimental effects of their products and pro- cesses (Schmidheiny, 1992; Shrivastava, 1995).


Andersson and Bateman

Furthermore, the widespread consequences of en- vironmental issues may far exceed those of many other corporate issues (Schmidheiny, 1992; Shriv- astava, 1995). A corporate environmental crisis such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill can affect nu- merous species and communities, translating into a tremendous financial burden for an organization. Considering these obstacles to managerial compre- hension and action, organizations need visible and credible champions to increase understanding and promote initiative on environmental issues.

We broadly define champions as individuals who, through formal organizational roles and/or personal activism, attempt to introduce or create change in a product, process, or method within an organization (e.g., Ginsberg & Abrahamson, 1991; Maidique, 1980; Schon, 1963). Analogous to "intra- preneurs" (Pinchot, 1985) and issue sponsors (Dut- ton, 1993), champions are able to recognize the business significance of an issue and promote it within their organizations. Without dedicated champions, organizational innovations usually do not proceed beyond the initial idea stage (Frost & Egri, 1991).

Environmental innovations, like other types of in- novations, are often formulated and promoted by sin- gle individuals working in the operating cores of organizations (Morrison, 1991; Winn, 1995). Individ- uals who believe that environmental issues are a top priority and who possess environmental knowledge and skills are key factors in the mobilization of sup- port for confronting and ameliorating environmental issues (Goitein, 1989; Starik & Rands, 1995) and are considered vital to corporate environmental manage- ment programs (Winn, 1995).

Although several researchers have generated de- scriptive or anecdotal accounts of these environmen- tal champions and their activities (e.g., Goitein, 1989; Johannson, 1992), no rigorous empirical research on these individuals has been identified. Much of the previous research on champions has focused on the personality characteristics and leadership qualities of individuals associated with new products or techno- logical innovations (e.g., Frost & Egri, 1991; Howell & Higgins, 1990; Markham, Green, & Basu, 1991). Al- though some champion research has focused on the context and outcomes of championing (e.g., Howell, Shea, & Higgins, 1998; Kessler & Chakrabarti, 1996), no empirical research has focused solely on the pro- cess by which champions champion issues or inno- vations.

Frost and Egri (1991) wrote that individuals champion issues or innovations when they bring them to the attention of those who can provide the organizational resources necessary for action. As of

championing does not exist in the organizational science literature (Markham et al., 1991). The pro- cess of championing has been defined in numerous ways, including the following: providing important information about an issue, framing an issue in a particular manner, and garnering support and re- sources that attract top management to the issue (Dutton & Ashford, 1993); introducing new per- spectives that create pressure for organizational change and taking political and symbolic actions to promote that change (Ginsberg & Abrahamson, 1991); seeking out creative ideas from information sources and then enthusiastically selling them within an organization (Howell & Higgins, 1990); creating, defining, or adopting an idea and risking position or prestige to make possible the innova- tion's successful implementation (Maidique, 1980); strongly advocating a project and generating posi- tive behavioral support for it during its develop- ment (Markham et al., 1991); recognizing and pro- posing a new technical idea or procedure and pushing it toward formal management approval (Roberts & Fusfeld, 1981); and identifying an idea and promoting it actively and vigorously (Schon, 1963).

Three interrelated and yet distinct individual- level activities that emerge from these and other definitions can be considered to constitute the championing process: (1) identifying/generating an issue or idea, (2) packaging it as attractive, and (3) selling it to organizational decision makers. This three-part operational definition of championing can be used in the context of any type of organiza- tional program or innovation, whether a new social issue, a product, or a technology. We offer this definition as the foundation for the present re- search on championing natural environmental is- sues in business organizations.


The multitude of potential environmental issues business organizations faced in the 1990s can be roughly categorized as follows: (1) air pollution (out- door and indoor), (2) solid waste disposal, (3) topsoil erosion, (4) ozone layer depletion, (5) population growth, (6) marine and fresh water pollution, (7) toxic waste accumulation and disposal, (8) reduction in biodiversity, (9) wetlands destruction, (10) deforesta- tion, and (11) climate modification (Morrison, 1991; Schmidheiny, 1992; Throop, Starik, & Rands, 1993). Because these issues can be technical and complex, are intricately tied to industrial activity, and have widespread consequences for organizations and com-

this writing, however, a consensual definition of

549 2000

munities (Schmidheiny, 1992; Shrivastava, 1995;

Academy of Management Journal

Stem, 1992), a champion of environmental issues may need to adopt unique behavioral variations of the three championing activities. In this section, we inte- grate findings from the literatures on organizational innovation, strategic issues management, corporate environmental management, psychology of global en- vironmental change, and social influence in organi- zations to create a framework (shown in Figure 1) and hypotheses describing how the three championing activities may be enacted in a successful environmen- tal championing episode.

Identifying Environmental Issues

Champions must first identify-seek out, create, define, adopt, generate, or recognize-issues and ideas (Howell & Higgins, 1990; Maidique, 1980; Roberts & Fusfeld, 1981; Schon, 1963). Scanning, or acquiring information about events occurring inside and outside their organization, is a means by which champions become aware of issues arising in the internal and external environments (Culnan, 1983). Through scanning sources such as environ- mental and industry conferences, public libraries and databases, meetings with knowledgeable col- leagues and external consultants, and environmen- tal and industry periodicals, environmental cham- pions can monitor organizational, public, and regulatory priorities and stay abreast of competitive

trends and future environmental legislation (Hen- riques & Sadorsky, 1995; Winsemius & Guntram, 1992). The more that champions scan the internal and external environments, the greater chance they have of gaining access to data that can be used to develop a meaningful and positive presentation of a given environmental issue to top management (Ashford, Dutton, & O'Neill, 1991; Thomas, Clark, & Gioia, 1993). Thus, it is expected that:

Hypothesis 1. Frequent scanning behaviors and use of multiple scanning sources in iden- tifying an issue will increase the likelihood of a successful environmental championing epi- sode.

Packaging Environmental Issues

Issue packaging is the term describing how an issue's content is framed and the way that an issue is linguistically presented to others in an organiza- tion (Dutton & Ashford, 1993). Through packaging, champions can manipulate the issue's meaning, enhance its importance, and make certain at- tributes of the issue more salient, helping to ensure that it is perceived in the desired manner by orga- nizational decision makers. Issue packaging may be a powerful aid in championing environmental is- sues, especially since organizational decision mak-

FIGURE 1 Framework for Championing Natural Environmental Issues

Potential Enviuoim"antal Issues Facing Business

Championing Activities Indicators of a Successful C.hampioning Episode

Ireil;ryiiug Enviu-l,,hlental Issues * Scanning behaviors

Packsging Enav;uh".ifntal Issues * Issue framing

Opportunity, urgent, local impact * Issue presentation

Drama and emotion, metaphors

Selling Enviir..ti,knetal Issues * Influence behaviors

Rational persuasion, consultation, coalition, inspirational appeal H5

Top Mansagemnt Attention * Naming issue as program/policy * Creation of task force devoted to issue

Top Management Action * Allocation of time to issue * Allocation of money to issue

Champion Perception * Successful vs. unsuccessful initiative

OrgAnizational Context * Corporate environmental paradigm (+)


f ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

m I





August 550


Andersson and Bateman

ers rarely have complete information regarding their organizations' effects on the natural environ- ment (Goitein, 1989; Rappaport & Dillon, 1991).

Issue framing. Framing an issue in an appropri- ate manner can capture the attention of organiza- tional decision makers and thus shape and direct subsequent issue-relevant activity (Dutton & Ash- ford, 1993). In framing an issue, champions make choices concerning what attributes of the issue to emphasize or downplay (Dutton & Ashford, 1993). For example, a champion may frame something as a cost issue rather than as a technical issue to convey to decision makers that addressing it will save the organization money and not demand that technical expertise be pulled away from other projects. Moreover, a champion may frame an issue as "highly visible" to convey that it may attract the positive attention of outsiders if acted upon in a timely manner.

Because most organizational decision makers have little (although varying) amounts of environ- mental education and training, it may be necessary for a champion to use a combination of dimensions to frame environmental issues (Dutton, Walton, & Abrahamson, 1989; Rappaport & Dillon, 1991). Three issue-framing dimensions are predicted to be particularly important in an environmental cham- pioning episode: opportunity/threat, urgency, and geographical impact.

The opportunity/threat dimension is commonly used in framing organizational issues (Dutton & Jackson, 1987). Whereas an issue framed as an op- portunity signifies "a positive situation in which gain is likely and over which one has a fair amount of control" (Dutton & Jackson, 1987: 80), an issue framed as a threat indicates a negative situation in which loss is imminent and one has little control (Dutton & Jackson, 1987). In framing an issue as an opportunity, a champion could emphasize the fi- nancial, strategic, or competitive benefits that may potentially accrue from action on the issue; in fram- ing an issue as a threat, a champion could describe a potential crisis situation that may result from failure to act.

Research has revealed the importance of framing environmental issues as opportunities. A longitu- dinal study of the Canadian oil and gas industry showed that proactive strategies of environmental responsiveness were a reflection of managerial in- terpretation of environmental issues as opportuni- ties (Sharma, 1997). Embracing environmental is- sues as opportunities enables managers to reap benefits in terms of lower costs, higher process efficiencies, reuse and recycling of resources, and a positive reputation (Post & Altman, 1992; Sharma,

Additional framing dimensions of potential im- portance are urgency and geographical impact. Strong evidence exists that natural environmental problems created by business organizations de- mand urgent response (Shrivastava, 1995). To gen- erate a sense of urgency in organization members, the importance, visibility, time pressure, and sense of organizational responsibility surrounding envi- ronmental issues must be emphasized (Dutton, Stumpf, & Wagner, 1990). Framing an environmen- tal issue as urgent involves conveying to decision makers that the issue warrants immediate attention and, if not acted upon promptly, will likely attract the negative attention of the media, competitors, and/or regulators. Individuals and organizations are potentially reluctant to modify their behaviors if they feel that a problem is not visible and impor- tant or will become acute only in the future (Swap, 1991). Thus, champions may be wise to convey the urgency associated with an environmental issue.

Although the geographical impact of certain en- vironmental issues (for instance, ozone depletion, global warming) is global, many environmental is- sues can be framed as having an acute impact on a local community (Schmidheiny, 1992; Sjoberg, 1989). A large-scale study of corporate environ- mental practices in the United States, Canada, and Europe revealed that corporations devoted far more time and resources to local issues, such as clean water and local land use, than to global issues such as ozone depletion and population growth (Morri- son, 1991). It makes intuitive sense that an organi- zation would focus on issues that directly affect its local community, such as a local park cleanup or a process change resulting in a cleaner local water supply, as it is easier and more advantageous for an organization to establish an environmental pro- gram within its local domain.

To summarize the discussion on framing:

Hypothesis 2a. Framing an issue as an oppor- tunity will increase the likelihood of a success- ful environmental championing episode.

Hypothesis 2b. Framing an issue as urgent will increase the likelihood of a successful environ- mental championing episode.

Hypothesis 2c. Framing an issue as having local impact will increase the likelihood of a successful environmental championing epi- sode.

Issue presentation. The manner in which an is- sue is linguistically presented is helpful in deter- mining whether issue sponsorship will be success- ful (Dutton & Ashford, 1993). Presenting an issue


2000 551

involves using certain types of language-for in-

Academy of Management Journal

stance, dramatic, jargon-filled, passionate, or suc- cinct-to ensure that the issue is perceived in the desired manner by organizational decision makers. Two presentation styles are predicted to be useful for championing natural environmental issues: a dramatic and emotional style and a metaphorical style.

The effects of a dramatic and emotional style of presentation on capturing the attention and stimu- lating the actions of organizational decision makers has been documented (Dutton & Ashford, 1993). Dramatic stories of potential environmental degra- dation, narrated using passionate language and vivid examples, are an important communicative resource and a strong force in mobilizing people for action (Rappaport & Dillon, 1991). To illustrate, a champion presenting a habitat preservation pro- gram to top management might inject forceful and pessimistic images of species loss into his or her narration to convey the potential harm to the eco- system resulting from inaction on the part of the organization. Language that conjures such a pow- erful and dramatic image captures people's atten- tion, causing them to assign disproportionate weight to the information even when hard statisti- cal evidence to the contrary is presented concur- rently (Nielson & Saranson, 1981).

Through a metaphorical style, a champion can provide a common framework for understanding an issue, making it easier to coordinate and inte- grate organizational activities surrounding the is- sue (Tsoukas, 1991). Metaphors can be used to clarify or compare, creating emphasis and a fresh perspective, particularly with regard to complex or ambiguous issues or experiences (Sackmann, 1989). They link the strange with the familiar by helping to build a reality, communicating mean- ing when no literal language is available (Tsou- kas, 1991). Thus, metaphors (for instance, Mother Earth, greening, the tragedy of the commons) can be a useful vehicle for explaining an unfamiliar and technically complex environmental issue (Meima, 1994).

Drawing from these arguments, we expected that

Hypothesis 3a. Presenting an issue using drama and emotion will increase the likeli- hood of a successful environmental champion- ing episode.

Hypothesis 3b. Presenting an issue using pow- erful, meaningful, and clear metaphors will increase the likelihood of a successful environ-

Selling Environmental Issues

An environmental champion must somehow persuade organizational decision makers to sup- port his or her initiative. The liberal use of influ- ence behaviors by champions as part of the inno- vation and issue-selling processes is supported by theory and empirical research (e.g., Dutton & Ashford, 1993; Egri, 1995; Frost & Egri, 1991; Howell & Higgins, 1990; Howell et al., 1998). Successful champions are able to influence im- portant players in their organizations to envision the strategic importance of their idea (Frost & Egri, 1991).

Yukl and his associates (e.g., Falbe & Yukl, 1992; Yukl, Falbe, & Youn, 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992) empirically demonstrated that nine influence tac- tics are used in organizations. Further, their re- search showed that rational persuasion, consulta- tion, and inspirational appeal are the most effective influence tactics managers and professionals use to generate an influence target's commitment (Falbe & Yukl, 1992; Yukl & Tracey, 1992). However, the degree of use and effectiveness of particular influ- ence tactics differ depending on the direction of influence.

Champions tend to direct their selling attempts toward their superiors and, sometimes, their peers, usually top management (Dutton & Ash- ford, 1993; Frost & Egri, 1991). In light of this evidence, research indicates that rational persua- sion, consultation, coalition building, and inspi- rational appeal may be the most appropriate tac- tics for champions (e.g., Ashford et al., 1991; Yukl et al., 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992). Rational persuasion-the use of logical, crafted arguments and factual evidence-is a proven method of gaining support from superiors (e.g., Yukl et al., 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992) and is effective for selling complex and technical issues (Frost & Egri, 1991). Likewise, consultation, in which the champion seeks the target's participation in plan- ning the desired program or innovation, and co- alition building, in which the champion enlists the support of others who are knowledgeable and interested in environmental issues, are both strong tactics for gaining commitment from supe- riors, as evidenced in a number of environmental management programs and innovations (Post & Altman, 1992; Rappaport & Dillon, 1991; Winn, 1995). Finally, inspirational appeal-selling by appealing to a target's values and ideals-gener- ates target commitment to a new project (Yukl & Tracey, 1992), and it would appear intuitively to be a strong means of selling a hot (divisive, emo- tion-evoking, and value-revealing) issue like an

August 552

mental championing episode.

Andersson and Bateman

environmental issue (Ashford, Rothbard, Piderit, & Dutton, 1995). In sum, we predicted that

Hypothesis 4a. Selling an issue using rational persuasion will increase the likelihood of a successful environmental championing epi- sode.

Hypothesis 4b. Selling an issue using consul- tation will increase the likelihood of a success- ful environmental championing episode.

Hypothesis 4c. Selling an issue using coalition building will increase the likelihood of a suc- cessful environmental championing episode.

Hypothesis 4d. Selling an issue using inspira- tional appeal will increase the likelihood of a successful environmental championing epi- sode.

Corporate Environmental Paradigm

The collective values and beliefs of an organiza- tion's members about its distinctive attributes are known as the organization's paradigm. The content of the paradigm affects how issues are interpreted and acted upon within the organization (Dutton, 1993). This notion of an organizational paradigm can be extended to the way that an organization's decision makers see it with respect to the natural environment (Meima, 1994).

The dominant social paradigm that has been in place in Western society for at least the past two centuries, and that most leaders of business orga- nizations have embraced, consists of belief in the unfettered pursuit of economic growth, strong sup- port for private property rights and laissez-faire government, and faith in technology as the vehicle for progress (e.g., Catton & Dunlap, 1980; Gladwin, Kennelly, & Krause, 1995; McLaughlin, 1993). Un- derlying these convictions is the assumption that humans are exempt from the laws of nature and dominant over the natural world (Catton & Dunlap, 1980). In business organizations, the effects of this "technocentric" paradigm are evidenced in waste- ful use of resources, inadequate consideration of impact, and overdependence on technology for en- vironmental solutions (Shrivastava, 1995). Busi- ness organizations embracing this paradigm tend to respond to natural environmental issues mainly for compliance reasons, to have little in the way of comprehensive environmental policy and pro- grams, and to have left environmental goals un- linked with other management components (Post & Altman, 1992).

However, as Western society has become more

damage attributable to human activity, the strong hold of the dominant social paradigm is potentially loosening. A small but growing number of influen- tial people are beginning to dismiss the false satia- tion provided by consumerism and are finding de- sirable the tenets of restricting growth, protecting the integrity of ecosystems, and securing a more harmonious relationship between humans and na- ture (Catton & Dunlap, 1980; McLaughlin, 1993). In this emerging paradigm, termed the new environ- mental paradigm, humans are viewed as equal members of the natural world rather than as exempt from the laws of nature (Catton & Dunlap, 1980).

The emergence of the new environmental para- digm is important to the changing relationship between business and the natural environment. Certain organizations, either willingly or under pressure from external sources such as publicity, regulation, or competition, have changed the way in which they view and interact with the natural environment. Concepts such as environmental management, in which organizations' leaders view nature as a collection of resources to be effectively controlled and managed, and ecocentric manage- ment, in which they view nature as a central con- sideration in operating practices, suggest that some business organizations are placing greater value on the natural environment than they have in the past (Gladwin et al., 1995; Purser, Park, & Montuori, 1995; Shrivastava, 1995). Whereas environmental management practices such as recycling and waste management, incorporation of environmental crite- ria into the balance sheet, and recognition of the environment as a source of competitive advantage convey a moderately strong environmental para- digm, ecocentric management symbols and prac- tices such as strong proenvironmental attitudes among top management, rewards for environmen- tal performance, support for sustainability-oriented innovation, initiation of and involvement in envi- ronmental partnerships, and an abundance of envi- ronmentally oriented artifacts convey a strong en- vironmental paradigm (Gladwin et al., 1995; Post & Altman, 1992; Starik & Rands, 1995).

Thus, business organizations vary according to how strongly they embrace values and beliefs in- herent in the new environmental paradigm, and it is likely that environmental champions will have more success in organizations that hold a strong rather than a weak environmental paradigm. There- fore:

Hypothesis 5. Championing activities will be more likely to result in a successful environ- mental championing episode when an organi-

aware of the apparently irreversible environmental

553 2000

zation's environmental paradigm is strong.

Academy of Management Journal

Indicators of a Successful Environmental Championing Episode

What criteria might be used to determine the success of a championing episode? The literature on strategic issues management suggests that top management attention to an issue and top manage- ment action on it are important indicators of issue- sponsorship success. Top management attention to an issue can be displayed by a variety of behaviors, such as naming the issue, collecting issue-relevant information, and creating a task force devoted to it (Dutton & Ashford, 1993). Top management action on an issue can be demonstrated by allocating time and money to it and placing it on an organization's strategic agenda (Dutton et al., 1990; Frost & Egri, 1991). Most importantly, research on champions suggests that judgments of champions themselves are highly accurate indicators of the success of a championing episode (Howell & Higgins, 1990; Howell et al., 1998).

Borrowing from the literatures on strategic issues management and organizational innovation, we selected five indicators of championing success for use in this investigation: (1) naming/designating the issue as a policy or program, (2) creating a task force devoted to the issue, (3) top management allocation of time to the issue, (4) top management allocation of money to the issue, and (5) a champi- on's perception of success.


To test the hypotheses, we conducted a field study using survey and interview data, comparing successful and unsuccessful environmental cham- pioning episodes across a variety of organizations. Such field comparative research is appropriate for the investigation of issue championing, as field re- search contrasting episodes of successful and un- successful issue selling in various contexts has been encouraged by scholars studying strategic is- sues management (Ashford et al., 1991; Dutton & Ashford, 1993). Rigorous empirical research vali- dating general models is greatly needed in the study of environmental issues in business organi- zations (Starik, 1995).


We conducted the study in five stages. First, we identified potential environmental champions and solicited their participation in the study. Second, we asked a group of champions to participate in a preliminary survey administration to refine the sur-

survey instrument, we asked the entire sample of champions to complete the survey. Concurrently, we asked champions to give a similar survey to a coworker familiar with their environmental efforts. Next, we asked those champions who indicated that they would be willing to complete another survey about a different championing episode to do so. Finally, we solicited a subset of champions to take part in semistructured interviews.

Identification and selection of environmental champions. Drawing on publications such as Re- new America's Environmental Success Index and Cutter Information Corporation's Business and the Environment, as well as meetings with the director of the North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction and participation in the Global Environmental Management Initiative's GEMI '95 conference, we identified 496 potential environmental champions in U.S. business organizations. We then sent the 496 potential champions a letter asking for their participation in a study examining the ways that an individual employee can help to turn an environ- mental issue into a corporate program/innovation. We included with the letter stamped postcards ask- ing the potential champions if they would be will- ing to (1) complete a confidential survey about their environmental efforts and (2) give a second confi- dential survey to a coworker in a position to com- ment on their environmental efforts.

The identification of champions through peer nomination and secondary sources was adequate for this investigation, for several reasons. First, the process of peer nomination of champions has been shown to be a reliable and valid technique (Howell & Higgins, 1990). Second, because of the strategic emphasis placed on environmental issues in busi- ness organizations at the time of this investigation (Throop et al., 1993), individuals who championed environmental issues were often recognized and lauded for their efforts in the popular press (e.g., Johannson, 1992; Rice, 1993). The plethora of pub- lished lists of award-winning corporate environ- mental programs/innovations is evidence of this surge of interest in corporate environmentalism. In most of these lists, the one individual who led the initiative was singled out and commended.

Of the 188 completed postcards received, 117 indicated willingness to complete a survey and to give a survey to a coworker, 47 indicated willing- ness to complete a survey but not to give one to a coworker, and 24 indicated unwillingness to com- plete a survey. Therefore, a total of 164 champions self-selected for the study.

A random telephone survey of 20 nonrespon- dents revealed that they had either changed orga-

vey instrument. After thorough pretesting of the

554 August

nizations (45 percent), did not have the time to

Andersson and Bateman

complete a survey (40 percent), or did not consider themselves to be key players in the program/inno- vation (15 percent). Further, a random telephone survey of 10 champions willing to complete a sur- vey but not willing to give one to a coworker re- vealed that a majority (60 percent) did not want to burden a coworker with the responsibility of com- pleting a survey, and others (40 percent) felt that no one coworker could accurately comment on their environmental efforts.

Survey administration. We mailed each of the 164 environmental champions a package contain- ing a survey, a cover letter, and a stamped return envelope. Furthermore, we sent an additional pack- age containing a cover letter, a coworker survey, and a stamped return envelope to each of the 117 (of the 164) champions who had indicated that they would be willing to give a survey to a knowledge- able coworker.

The champion survey consisted of two parts and contained both fixed-choice and open-ended items. Part 1 of the survey asked a champion to think about an episode in which she or he initiated action on an environmental issue within his or her orga- nization and to answer questions while thinking about that episode. Half of the champions (82) were instructed to complete this part of the survey while considering a successful environmental champion- ing episode, and the other half were instructed to complete this part while considering an unsuccess- ful episode. Randomization checks (t-tests) com- paring champions' demographic characteristics re- vealed that the assignment of an experience condition to each champion was completely ran- dom. Part 2 of the survey asked champions for background information about themselves and their organizations and also about their willingness to complete a second survey and engage in an in- terview.

We received a total of 132 surveys from environ- mental champions, for a response rate of 80 percent (or 27 percent of the 496 potential champions ini- tially contacted). Of the surveys returned, 72 (54 percent) described a successful championing epi- sode, and 60 (46 percent) described an unsuccess- ful championing episode. These numbers meet the minimum of 60 per group required by statistical power analysis for achieving the power level of .80, with a significance level of .05 and a standardized effect size of .50, that is typical of and recom- mended for management research (Mazen, Graf, Kellogg, & Hemmasi, 1987).

The 132 champions who completed the survey were predominantly from organizations in the diver- sified/manufacturing (64 percent) and electric utili-

champions widely distributed in the retail, financial services, consumer services, health care, construc- tion, transportation, defense, and oil and natural gas industries. Most (88 percent) were employed by or- ganizations with over 1,000 total employees. They worked mainly in environmental/safety affairs (85 percent) and engineering (6 percent) departments, al- though several worked in operations or legal depart- ments. They averaged six years of tenure with their organizations. A majority (76 percent) of the champi- ons were men, and their average age was 45 years.

Like the champion survey, the coworker survey consisted of two parts and contained both fixed- choice and open-ended items. Each coworker was asked to think about an episode in which the cham- pion he or she worked with initiated action on an environmental issue and to answer questions about that episode. Champions were instructed to tell their surveyed coworkers which environmental championing episode to refer to when answering the questions. This survey was used to gain an additional assessment of the championing activi- ties, the environmental paradigm of the organiza- tion, and the indicators of championing success, thereby adding validity to the study and helping to reduce the potential for common method variance (Spector, 1994).

We received a total of 52 coworker surveys, 32 (61 percent) on successful episodes, and 20 (39 percent) on unsuccessful episodes, for a response rate of 44 percent. Like the environmental champi- ons, the coworkers worked mainly in environmen- tal/safety affairs (71 percent) and engineering (12 percent) departments, with the remainder working in marketing, operations, legal, or research and de- velopment departments. Most (79 percent) were men, and their average age was 44 years. A large majority of the coworkers (81 percent) indicated that they had been targets of the environmental champions' issue-selling attempts. Further, a ma- jority (77 percent) described themselves as superi- ors of the champions, with fewer describing them- selves as peers (17 percent) or subordinates (6 percent).

We performed paired t-tests comparing champi- ons' and their coworkers' responses on each of the survey measures, revealing significant differences between the groups on only one of the measures (use of consultation as an influence tactic). Thus, judging by the concurrence of independent observ- ers, champions were apparently able to report ac- curately on their own behaviors in the environmen- tal championing process, lending validity to the use of self-report data in the examination of envi-

ties (17 percent) industries, with the remainder of the

2000 555

ronmental championing activities.

Academy of Management Journal

Contrasting survey administration. We sent a second survey with a cover letter and a stamped return envelope to each of the 53 champions who indicated on the initial survey that he or she would be willing to complete a second survey about a different championing episode. The second survey included only the items from part 1 of the first survey; thus, we did not require champions to re- iterate descriptive information about themselves and their organizations. We asked champions who completed their first survey while thinking about a successful environmental championing episode to complete a second survey while thinking about an unsuccessful championing episode, and vice versa. The purpose of this second survey was to provide evidence that champions experience and distin- guish successful and unsuccessful championing episodes and that their behaviors in contrasting episodes are different.

We received a total of 45 second surveys, 22 (49 percent) of which described a successful champi- oning episode, and 23 (51 percent) of which de- scribed an unsuccessful episode, for a response rate of 85 percent. We performed paired t-tests to com- pare the responses to the champions who com- pleted two surveys. We found significant differ- ences on all of the dependent measures, the indicators of championing success. We also found significant differences on all but two of the inde- pendent survey measures (framing as an opportu- nity/threat and use of rational persuasion as an influence tactic), indicating that, for the most part, individual champions reported different behaviors in successful and unsuccessful championing epi- sodes. These results exactly replicated what we found when comparing the champions' responses to the first survey across successful and unsuccess- ful championing episodes. Therefore, we assumed that many champions had indeed experienced both successful and unsuccessful championing episodes and that their behaviors differed in the two epi- sodes.

Semistructured interviews. A subset of 22 of the environmental champions participated in 30- to 60-minute semistructured telephone interviews concerning the details of their successful or unsuc- cessful championing episodes. We based selection of champions for interviews on their interest (as indicated on the first survey) and on an attempt to achieve a broad representation of environmental issues. We interviewed 12 of the champions about successful championing episodes and 10 about un- successful episodes. We recorded and transcribed all interviews verbatim.

We drew on studies of champions and issue

ford et al., 1991; Howell & Higgins, 1990) in the creation of the interview questions. We asked the champions to (1) describe their particular environ- mental issues in detail, (2) describe some of the things that they did to contribute to their success/ lack of success in championing the issues, (3) dis- cuss any positive events and setbacks that occurred while championing the issues, (4) explain any rea- sons, beyond their efforts, as to why their compa- nies took or wished to take action on the issues, (5) describe any previous experience their companies had with similar environmental issues, and (6) comment on the overall supportiveness of their companies in their championing efforts. We formu- lated the interview questions and conducted the interviews after reviewing the survey results; the interview data were intended only to enhance un- derstanding of the survey data and provide anec- dotal evidence of the activities and organizational factors involved in successful and unsuccessful en- vironmental championing episodes.

Survey Measures

The survey measures consisted predominantly of previously established and validated scales and items.

Scanning behaviors. We measured scanning be- havior frequency and number of scanning sources using a scale based on the work of Culnan (1983). We asked each champion to estimate the extent (1, little or no extent, to 5, very great extent) to which she or he used each of seven sources (such as li- braries and environmental meetings or conven- tions) to acquire external information about the environmental issue championed. We computed scanning frequency as the mean of the champion's responses on the seven items (a = .74) and the number of scanning sources as the total number of items in which the champion indicated a response other than 1. Because we found the bivariate corre- lation between scanning frequency and number of scanning sources to be high (r = .90), we combined the two variables into one composite measure by multiplying the mean score for scanning frequency by the number of scanning sources used.

Issue framing. We measured framing of environ- mental issues using issue interpretation and assess- ment scales developed by Dutton and colleagues (1990) and Thomas and colleagues (1993), as well as items developed specifically for this investigation. First, we asked champions to indicate their relation- ship with the person or people (superiors, peers, sub- ordinates) targeted in their selling attempts. Next, we asked them the extent (1, little or no extent, to 5, very

sponsors using similar methodologies (e.g., Ash-

556 August

great extent) to which they framed the environmental

Andersson and Bateman

issues in a particular manner. Each framing item be- gan "In selling the environmental issue to key people in your company, to what extent did you convey to them that… ?"

We measured the framing dimension opportunity/ threat with 15 items (a = .88) developed by Thomas and colleagues (1993). Examples include "they would perceive that benefits would come from the issue" and "the issue would have negative implications for the future." We reverse-scored 6 of the items, with higher scores indicating framing the issue as an opportunity.

We measured the dimension urgency using nine items (a = .82) developed by Dutton and colleagues (1990). Examples include "the issue was urgent" and "they would feel responsible for bringing about the issue." We reverse-scored one of the items, with higher scores indicating framing the issue as ur- gent.

We measured the dimension local/global impact with four items (a = .71) developed for this study. Examples include "resolution of the issue would have an impact on the local community" and "the issue was an international problem." We reverse- scored two of the items, with higher scores indicat- ing framing the issue as having local impact.

Issue presentation. We measured champions' use of drama and emotion using two items (a = .74). We asked champions to indicate, again on a five-point Likert scale, the extent to which they used (1) vivid, dramatic cases or stories and (2) emotion-evoking language in presenting the issue to key organization members. We gave brief exam- ples with each item to illustrate the presentation technique.

We measured champions' use of metaphors us- ing a single open-ended question. After we defined the term "metaphor" and gave examples (for in- stance, a company that repeatedly performs hostile takeovers is known as a shark), we asked champi- ons to provide any metaphors they used when pre- senting the issue to others in the organization. We coded use of metaphors either yes or no.

Influence behaviors. We measured influence be- haviors using four subscales of the Influence Be- havior Questionnaire (Yukl et al., 1993). Each of the four subscales-rational persuasion (a = .81), con- sultation (a = .86), coalition building (a = .80), and inspirational appeal (a = .89)–consists of five, six, or seven items. We asked champions to indicate how often (1, never, to 5, very often) they used each of the behaviors in selling the issue within their companies. The following are sample items from the agent (champion) version of the four subscales: "provided evidence to show that your proposal or

"encouraged the person to express any concerns or doubts about a plan or course of action you pro- posed" (consultation), "brought somebody along to support you when you met with the person to make a request or proposal" (coalition building), and "ap- pealed to the person's values, ideals, and aspira- tions when proposing an activity or project" (inspi- rational appeal).

Open-ended questions. To gain additional in- sight into the championing activities, we posed two open-ended questions to the champions at the end of part 1 of the survey. We asked them "Looking back at your involvement in the issue, what were the keys to your success (reasons for your lack of success)?" and "What would you do differently?"

Corporate environmental paradigm. We gath- ered information about the environmental para- digm of champions' organizations using a 2-item measure (a = .85) of environmental reward system, as well as the 14-item (a = .86) Business-Environ- ment Scale (Shetzer, Stackman, & Moore, 1991), a measure of attitudes concerning the role of busi- ness organizations in the environmental move- ment. We combined the two measures to represent the corporate environmental paradigm (a = .88). First, we asked champions the extent to which their organizations (1) included environmental criteria as part of the performance appraisal process and (2) offered specific recognition or awards for environ- mental efforts. Next, we asked champions to indi- cate the extent to which top managers in their or- ganizations would agree (1, strongly disagree, to 5, strongly agree) with statements such as "Organiza- tions need to spend more money on environmental protection" and "Resources should not be devoted to environmental protection because a firm's prof- itability will be threatened." We reverse-scored 7 of the Business-Environment Scale items, with higher values indicating a stronger environmental para- digm.

Indicators of championing success. As stated earlier, we borrowed five indicators of champion success from the literatures on strategic issues man- agement and organizational innovation. These in- dicators were all perceptual, reflecting the champi- ons' viewpoints on individual- and organization- level activities.

We measured the two indicators of top manage- ment attention-naming the issue and creation of a task force devoted to the issue-using two items. We asked each champion to indicate yes or no as to whether (1) the environmental issue was given a name or designated as a policy or program by key organization members and (2) a task force or com- mittee was established to tackle the issue (Dutton &

plan was likely to succeed" (rational persuasion),

2000 557

Ashford, 1993).

Academy of Management Journal

We assessed top management action on the envi- ronmental issue using two indicators-the alloca- tion of top management time and top management money to the issue (Dutton et al., 1990). We asked champions to indicate their agreement (1, strongly disagree, to 5, strongly agree) with the following statements: "I am convinced that top management in my company contributed as much time as they could to the environmental issue" and "I am con- vinced that top management in my company con- tributed as much money as they could to the envi- ronmental issue."

The final (and arguably the most important) in- dicator of a successful environmental championing episode-champion perception of success-was apparent through champions' responses to part 1 of the survey, when we asked them to think about episodes in which they were either successful or unsuccessful in championing an environmental is- sue. Each champion selected an episode perceived to be successful or unsuccessful and answered the questions accordingly.

To determine if perception of success could serve as the primary and most representative dependent variable, we ran a logistic regression analysis, re- gressing the four secondary indicators of champi- oning success on a champion's perception of suc- cess. The resulting model was significant (X2 = 62.86, p < .001, pseudo R2 = .39), revealing that three of the secondary indicators-creation of a task force (b = 1.10, p < .01), top management time (b = 0.31, p < .05), and top management money (b = 0.72, p < .001)-contributed significantly to predicting champion perception of success. The other secondary indicator, naming the issue (b = 0.68, p = .16), was not significant. Considering this evidence, we considered champion perception of success the primary dependent variable in the study.

Hypothesis Testing

In our tests of the hypothesized relationships between championing activities and the outcome of a championing episode, the primary unit of analy- sis was the championing episode. The aim of the data analysis was to determine which championing activities contributed to a successful championing episode. Therefore, we performed multiple regres- sion analyses, regressing the activities (indepen- dent variables) on the indicators of a successful episode (dependent variables). Because we pre- dicted that the corporate environmental paradigm would moderate the relationship between the ac- tivities and success, we included interaction terms

For the three indicators of success consisting of dichotomous categorical response choices (cham- pion perception of success, naming the issue, and creation of a task force), we employed logistic re- gression analysis, rather than ordinary least squares regression analysis (Stokes, Davis, & Koch, 1995). We measured the other two indicators (top manage- ment time and money) on five-point Likert-type scales, thus treating them as continuous measures. In those cases, we used least-squares estimation. We used only the 132 initial champion surveys as data in the statistical analyses.

Model specification and refinement. We speci- fied and refined a number of regression models to ensure the best possible representation of the data (Belsley, Kuh, & Welsch, 1980; Berry & Feldman, 1985; Tabachnick & Fidell, 1989). First, we speci- fied an omnibus regression model, regressing all independent variables, interaction terms, and con- trol variables on the primary dependent variable, champion perception of success. This omnibus model was used to test for the effects of the control variables and to gain a preliminary understanding of the effects of the championing activities on championing success.

Next, we specified four separate multiple regres- sion models, one for each of the conceptually dis- tinct championing activities: identifying, packag- ing (framing and presenting), and selling. Because we were testing a new framework, the primary aim of our research was to determine if each distinct championing activity had any relationship to the success of a championing episode. In developing the framework and the associated hypotheses, we made no predictions concerning the order of the activities or relationships among them. Therefore, we specified separate regression models for each of the four championing activities on each of the five indicators of success (Tabachnick & Fidell, 1989).

Finally, we performed multicollinearity diagnos- tics to further hone the regression models by de- tecting and eliminating unruly variables and inter- action terms (Belsley et al., 1980; Berry & Feldman, 1985). The variables and interaction terms that met multicollinearity criteria and were found to be non- significant in previous regression runs (paradigm x opportunity/threat, paradigm x metaphors, para- digm x rational, paradigm x consultation, and par- adigm x coalition) were removed from the models.

Interview and qualitative survey data. We con- tent-analyzed the interview transcripts (n = 22) and responses to the open-ended survey questions (n = 132) using qualitative data analysis proce- dures recommended by Strauss (1987). First, we designated broad response categories to categorize

in the regression models.

558 August

champions' responses to the open-ended survey

Andersson and Bateman

questions and interview questions. Next, two inde- pendent coders (doctoral students) scanned the in- terview transcripts and surveys, noting passages relevant to each category by placing appropriate codes in the margins. The coders achieved a 94 percent agreement rate. Using word-processing software, we then sorted the passages by category and arranged them from most to least concrete within each category. Finally, we examined the categorized data for the presence of patterns and commonalities.


The means, standard deviations, and correlations among the independent, contextual, and depen- dent variables are shown in Table 1. As expected, the correlations among the five dependent vari- ables ranged from moderately high to high (r = .55-.78). Furthermore, some of the correlations among the various championing behaviors were moderately high (r = .50-.63). However, none of the correlations among the championing behaviors exceeded the value of .70, obviating the need for separate regression models (Tabachnick & Fidell, 1989). Because we employed rigorous methods of model specification and multicollinearity detec- tion, any potential problems posed by the correla- tions were likely mitigated.

The results of the logistic and ordinary least squares regression analyses used to test the hypoth- eses are displayed in Tables 2 through 6 and de-

tailed below. The direct effects (Hypotheses 1-4d) are discussed first and the interaction effects (Hy- pothesis 5) are discussed last, with the qualitative results integrated into the discussion where appro- priate. Because our study is exploratory, and be- cause we wish to prompt further research into po- tentially important avenues, we discuss all effects with a significance level at the .10 or better level.

As shown in the results of the omnibus regres- sion analysis (Table 2), the only control variable with even modest significance (p < .10) in predict- ing champion success was a champion's tenure at a company. However, tenure was not a significant predictor of success when included in the separate multiple regression models for each of the champi- oning activities. Thus, none of the control variables were included in the final separate regression anal- yses (Tables 3-6).

Consistent with Hypothesis 1, use of scanning behaviors increased the likelihood of a successful championing episode. The results, shown in Table 3, provide evidence that frequent scanning behaviors and multiple sources increased the likelihood of championing success as measured by all five indica- tors of success. Champions indicated that industry and environmental conferences (x = 3.59, s.d. = 1.05, and x = 3.26, s.d. = 0.98) were the most frequently used sources for identifying environmental issues, with periodicals (k = 3.01, s.d. = 0.91) and consult- ants (x = 2.97, s.d. = 0.98) used to a slightly lesser extent.

In further support of Hypothesis 1, interviewed

TABLE 1 Descriptive Statistics and Correlationsa

Variableb Mean s.d. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

1. Scanning behaviors 11.89 8.33 (.74) 2. Opportunity/threat 3.81 0.71 .05 (.88) 3. Urgency 3.00 0.85 .60 -.03 (.82) 4. Geographical impact 2.77 0.95 .44 .21 .55 (.71) 5. Drama and emotion 2.30 1.06 .52 .04 .55 .44 (.74) 6. Metaphors .25 .11 .33 .21 .30 7. Rational persuasion 3.73 0.72 .45 .13 .52 .43 .45 .24 (.81) 8. Inspirational appeal 3.30 1.00 .56 .20 .48 .50 .58 .26 .63 (.89) 9. Consultation 2.64 0.90 .29 -.23 .26 .21 .27 -.05 .36 .54 (.86)

10. Coalition building 3.09 0.84 .25 -.23 .40 .19 .31 -.02 .24 .40 .53 (.80) 11. Environment paradigm 3.21 0.99 .20 .08 .29 .20 .43 .12 .21 .31 .11 .19 (.88) 12. Naming of issue .35 .02 .35 .26 .22 .30 .15 .30 .16 .25 .24 13. Task force .39 .02 .38 .33 -.08 .25 .21 .34 .23 .30 .16 .55 14. Top management time 3.35 1.08 .46 -.04 .47 .21 -.15 .26 .17 .19 .21 .32 .31 .57 .64 15. Top management money 3.42 0.93 .41 -.08 .46 .25 .22 .14 .21 .21 .17 .31 .33 .60 .68 .78 16. Perception of success .39 -.06 .49 .32 -.13 .27 .18 .32 .11 .27 .24 .62 .65 .71 .73

a Coefficient alphas are reported, where appropriate, in the parentheses on the diagonals. n = 132. Correlations with an absolute value

greater than .17 are significant at p < .05. b The correlations involving dichotomous variables (variables 6, 12, 13, 15, and 16) are point biserial correlations or phi coefficients; all

others are Pearson product-moment statistics.

2000 559

Academy of Management Journal

TABLE 2 Results of Logistic Regression Analysis for All Variables on Champion Perception of Successa

Variables and Parameters b s.e.

Control variables Company size -0.38 0.39 Company industry 0.02 0.04 Champion department 0.55 0.68 Champion tenure at company 0.03* 0.02 Champion age -0.06 0.04 Champion gender 0.27 0.68

Championing behaviors Scanning behaviors 2.54* 1.24 Opportunity/threat 0.14 0.53 Urgency 1.02* 0.46 Local/global impact 1.57' 0.96 Drama and emotion -0.34 0.74 Metaphors 0.33 0.38 Rational persuasion 0.81 0.70 Consultation 0.13 0.20 Coalition building 0.33* 0.14 Inspirational appeal 0.82* 0.60

Organizational context Environmental paradigm 0.01 0.66 Paradigm x scanning 0.61 0.75 Paradigm x urgency 0.03 0.10 Paradigm x local/global -0.16 0.12 Paradigm x drama 0.38* 0.18 Paradigm X inspirational 0.27* 0.13

Constant 5.06* 6.71 X2 73.91*** df 22 Pseudo R2 .45 Percentage correctly classified 89

a n = 131. Champion perception of success was coded 0 for unsuccessful and 1 for successful.

t p < .10 * p < .05

** p < .001

champions reported such activities as "gathered resources from national and state environmental groups" and "carefully researched and reviewed every option for dealing with the issue" as keys to their success. One champion directly attributed his success to the 11 months he spent researching the intricacies of hazardous waste reduction by "talk- ing with environmental engineers and environmen- tal consultants all over the country" and "reading everything [I] could dealing with hazardous waste." Likewise, when prodded for reasons for their lack of success, champions stated that they "failed to do background research on the problem" and "did not adequately evaluate all the various concerns in carrying out [the environmental pro- gram]."

framing environmental issues (Hypotheses 2a-2c) are shown in Table 4.

Hypothesis 2a predicts that framing an issue as an opportunity rather than as a threat will increase the likelihood of a successful environmental cham- pioning episode. However, in none of the regres- sion models was opportunity/threat a significant (p < .05) predictor of the outcome of a champion- ing episode. Therefore, Hypothesis 2a was not sup- ported.

Most champions, whether successful or unsuc- cessful, tended to frame issues as opportunities (x = 3.81, s.d. = 0.82). However, the qualitative re- sults indicate strongly that, in successful episodes, champions framed the environmental issues as fi- nancial opportunities, conveying to others that act- ing on the issues would help their companies to meet financial objectives, such as profit, efficiency, or cost savings. Furthermore, in discussing unsuc- cessful episodes, champions repeatedly cited fail- ure to emphasize the beneficial financial aspects of the environmental issues as a reason for their lack of success. Thus, although framing an issue as a general opportunity did not empirically distin- guish successful episodes from unsuccessful epi- sodes, the qualitative results suggest that successful champions were more likely than unsuccessful champions to frame issues as financial opportuni- ties:

I emphasized that buying the new equipment was a win-win situation by focusing on the profits it would bring to us as well as the good deed that we were doing for the environment.

I showed upper-level management why the program would be in their best interest, that it presented an opportunity … rather than a problem. Most of all, I emphasized that it made good business sense in that it would bring us dollars.

As predicted in Hypothesis 2b, framing an issue as urgent increased the likelihood of success, as measured by all five indicators. Moreover, many interviewed champions who were not successful mentioned their inability or failure to spark feel- ings of urgency as a prime cause of their lack of success. One champion remarked that if she could relive her championing experience, she "would definitely do a better job of putting a fire under the issue."

Hypothesis 2c predicts that framing an issue as having local impact will increase the likelihood of a successful championing episode. Results reveal that framing an issue as local increased the likeli- hood of champion perception of success and cre- ation of a task force. In the other three models, the The results of the regression analyses pertinent to

560 August

TABLE 3 Results of Logistic and OLS Regression Analyses for Identifying Environmental Issuesa

Model 1: Model 2: Model 3: Model 4: Model 5: Perception Naming Creation of a Top Management Top Management

Variables and Parametersb of Success the Issue Task Force Time Money

Scanning behaviors 0.28** 0.15* 0.39*** 0.04* 0.15*

Paradigm x scanning 0.02 0.02 0.01 0.01 0.00

Constant 1.77*** 1.56* 1.95*** 2.24*** 2.61***

x2 (F) 32.56*** 22.76*** 33.75*** 16.61*** 15.87***

df 2 2 2 2,128 2,128 Pseudo R2 (R2) .21 .12 .25 .23 .20

Percentage correctly classified (Adjusted R2) 77 71 80 .22 .19

a Analyses tested Hypothesis 1. b Parameters in parentheses refer to OLS regression analysis (models 4 and 5).

* p < .05 ** p < .01

** p < .001

TABLE 4 Results of Logistic and OLS Regression Analyses for Framing Environmental Issuesa

Model 1: Model 2: Model 3: Model 4: Model 5: Perception Naming Creation of a Top Management Top Management

Variables and Parametersb of Success the Issue Task Force Time Money

Opportunity/threat 0.41 0.53 0.07 0.17 0.16

Urgency 2.66** 1.15' 1.15* 0.56* 0.73*

Local/global impact 1.15* 0.53 0.45t 0.07 0.07

Paradigm x urgency 0.06 0.14 0.10 0.14 0.01

Paradigm x local/global -0.08 0.13 0.03 0.03 -0.00 Constant 6.34*** 6.08** 4.28** 1.53* 1.34*

x2 (F) 46.79*** 40.62*** 28.88*** 16.67*** 12.33***

df 5 5 5 5,125 5,125 Pseudo R2 (R2) .32 .27 .24 .40 .33

Percentage correctly classified (Adjusted R2) 82 81 75 .38 .30

a Analyses tested Hypothesis 2. b Parameters in parentheses refer to OLS regression analysis (models 4 and 5).

+ p < .10 *p < .05

** p < .01 ** p < .001

beta coefficients for local/global impact were not significant.

In addition to the three hypothesized framing di- mensions, framing an issue as simple was mentioned by several champions as a key to championing suc- cess. One champion stated emphatically that, while leading an initiative to develop an environmentally safe process for cleaning high-tech products, "The only way I could get top management to really listen was reduce my sales pitch to the idiot level." Another complained that the environmental issue he was championing "was so technical that it was impossible to explain to upper-level management" and that he

"toned it down quite a bit, substituted the technical jargon with understandable business terminology." Other framing dimensions mentioned by champions as contributing to success included framing an issue as relevant to company values, as cutting-edge, and as good publicity.

The results concerning Hypotheses 3a-3b are shown in Table 5. Hypothesis 3a speculates that use of drama and emotion will increase the likeli- hood of a successful championing episode. In none of the regression models was use of drama and emotion a significant (p < .10) predictor of the outcome of a championing episode, and, in a ma-

Andersson and Bateman 2000 561

Academy of Management Journal

TABLE 5 Results of Logistic and OLS Regression Analyses for Presenting Environmental Issuesa

Model 1: Model 2: Model 3: Model 4: Model 5: Perception Naming Creation of a Top Management Top Management

Variables and Parametersb of Success the Issue Task Force Time Money

Drama and emotion -0.54 0.18 -0.52 -0.42 0.01 Metaphors 1.00* 1.30** 0.97* 0.32 0.10 Paradigm x drama 0.66* 0.04 0.41* 0.64** 0.03

Constant 2.38*** 0.65* 1.98** 1.98*** 2.76***

X2 (F) 29.34*** 20.54*** 19.33*** 20.88*** 13.22***

df 3 3 3 3,127 3,127 Pseudo R2 (R2) .19 .20 .17 .33 .17

Percentage correctly classified (Adjusted R2) 79 73 74 .32 .16

a Analyses tested Hypothesis 3. b Parameters in parentheses refer to OLS regression analysis (models 4 and 5).

* p < .05 ** p < .01

*** p < .001

jority of the models, the nonsignificant effects were not in the hypothesized direction.

In accordance with these findings, none of the interviewed champions mentioned dramatic and emotional testimony as contributing to their suc- cess. In fact, several champions attributed their success to use of formal and businesslike rather than dramatic and emotional language. For exam- ple, one champion mentioned that he "used the right business jargon to get [my] point across," and another claimed that only through formally written memos and correspondence would his superiors pay attention to him.

In support of Hypothesis 3b, use of metaphor in presenting an environmental issue increased the like- lihood of a success as measured by three of the five indicators. However, use of metaphor did not predict success in the omnibus regression model. Some par- ticularly powerful, meaningful, and clear metaphors were used by successful champions in presenting environmental issues. The champion of a program called People Against Waste, for example, used the acronym PAW and a logo showing a tiger attacking waste with his oversized paw. Another champion, when presenting his issue to top management, por- trayed state legislators as Lilliputians, referring to the way that the legislators "tie companies down" with their many rules. One young champion even used a metaphorical theme song-Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House"-to tout the virtues of building a kiln incinerator to dispose of waste in-house rather than at a county landfill.

The results of the analyses testing Hypotheses 4a-4d are shown in Table 6. The selling targets of the champions were predominantly (98 percent) their superiors.

Rational persuasion, although the most frequently used influence tactic, did not significantly predict championing success, so Hypothesis 4a was not sup- ported. Champions who experienced successful epi- sodes and those who experienced unsuccessful epi- sodes were equally highly inclined (x = 3.77, s.d. = 0.85 and x = 3.69, s.d. = 0.95) to use rational persua- sion to sell their environmental issues. Nonetheless, the use of logical, crafted arguments and factual evi- dence was mentioned frequently in the interviews by successful champions. For example, a champion who successfully launched a hazardous waste reduction initiative commented that he "made a strong presen- tation of my business plan, complete with snazzy overheads charting monthly waste reduction and cost savings, to every department in the company." A champion of alternative energy sources declared that he was successful because he "presented a detailed plan with realistic goals." A number of champions also related selling their issues by using "hard facts" and pointing out successes in similar companies.

Hypothesis 4b was not supported. Use of consul- tation as an influence tactic did not contribute sig- nificantly to predicting the outcome of a champi- oning episode in any of the regression models. Furthermore, paired t-tests revealed that responses on the consultation measure by champions and coworkers differed significantly (x = 2.64, s.d. = 0.90 vs. x = 2.01, s.d. = 1.11, p < .01), thereby indicating that champions and coworkers dis- agreed on the amount of participation in formulat- ing and planning the initiative that the champions solicited from selling targets.

In support of Hypothesis 4c, use of coalition building increased the likelihood of championing success, as measured by four of the five indicators

August 562

Andersson and Bateman

TABLE 6 Results of Logistic and OLS Regression Analyses for Selling Environmental Issuesa

Model 1: Model 2: Model 3: Model 4: Model 5: Perception Naming Creation of a Top Management Top Management

Variables and Parametersb of Success the Issue Task Force Time Money

Rational persuasion 0.48 0.15 0.30 0.12 0.03 Consultation 0.25 0.48 0.06 0.07 0.02 Coalition building 0.02 0.81* 0.55* 0.33** 0.28* Inspirational appeal 0.75* 1.57** 0.41* 0.10 0.39 Paradigm x inspirational 0.52* 0.09 0.01 0.04*** 0.02*

Constant 3.48** 2.60* 3.71** 0.75* 0.86' X2 (F) 29.85*** 39.12*** 22.59** 18.04*** 10.06** df 5 5 5 5,125 5,125 Pseudo R2 (R2) .25 .26 .23 .42 .29 Percentage correctly classified (Adjusted R2) 75 80 73 .40 .26

a Analyses tested Hypothesis 4. b Parameters in parentheses refer to OLS regression analysis (models 4 and 5).

t p < .10 * p < .05

**p < .01 ** p < .001

and as demonstrated in the omnibus model as well. Strong support for coalition building was also shown by the qualitative results:

I brought together a strong task force consisting of knowledgeable individuals such as developers and environmentalists to help me with my presentation of the initiative. Two of the developers and one of the environmentalists actually came to the presen- tation and answered the questions that [the CEO and CFO] had that I couldn't answer. With them there, I had more credibility . . . more legitimacy. The best thing I did was find a championing partner. Just having two people instead of one made people pay attention. [The championing partner] was able to play the straight man to my jokes … he not only helped me out, but he made the whole project a hell of a lot more fun.

Consistent with Hypothesis 4d, inspirational ap- peal increased the likelihood of championing suc- cess, as measured by three of the indicators. In the interviews, only a few successful champions com- mented on their ability to inspire others when sell- ing the environmental issue. Unsuccessful champi- ons, however, repeatedly cited failure to inspire others as a reason for their lack of success and as an activity they would incorporate into future cham- pioning attempts. One unsuccessful champion complained that, if given the chance to do it differ- ently, he would "spend more time inspiring the conservative, antienvironmental types in the com- pany to believe that the natural environment is not just a liberal 'Al Gore' issue."

In the interviews, champions also mentioned using

two other influence behaviors, exchange and pres- sure. Several successful and unsuccessful champions described scenarios in which they bargained with their selling targets, offering to assist them on other company projects or provide positive publicity for them if the environmental effort proved to be a success. Furthermore, two unsuccessful champions described situations in which they pressured their selling targets by frequently "bothering them" and threatening to leave their jobs.

One aspect of issue selling not associated with influence behaviors was considered to be critically important by champions-the timing of selling ac- tivities. Of all the reasons champions mentioned as contributing to their success or lack of success, timing of their action on the issues was mentioned most frequently. Unsuccessful champions, in par- ticular, cited poor timing as the main reason for their lack of success: "I timed things very poorly," "I didn't act within the one- to two-year time win- dow in which we could have obtained the permits and purchased the unit at a reasonable cost," and "I tried to push the program too soon." Moreover, if given the opportunity to champion their issues again, unsuccessful champions would "get in- volved in promoting the issue earlier" and "follow up sooner and set more rigid time lines." Success- ful champions lauded themselves on their ability to time their selling activities, noting that they "acted quickly and decisively," "timed things perfectly," and "knew when to ask for help and money and when not to ask."

Hypothesis 5 predicts that an organization's en-

2000 563

Academy of Management Journal

vironmental paradigm will moderate the relation- ship between the championing activities and the outcome of a championing episode. The results of the tests of this hypothesis are revealed by exam- ining the beta coefficients of the interaction terms in the models presented in Tables 2 through 6.

Use of drama and emotion was significantly as- sociated with an increased likelihood of champion- ing success only when the environmental paradigm of an organization was strong, as shown in Tables 2 and 5. Similarly, inspirational appeal was a signif- icant (p < .05) predictor of several indicators of championing success when the paradigm was strong, as shown in Tables 2 and 6. Corporate en- vironmental paradigm did not affect any of the other championing behaviors in predicting cham- pioning success.

The qualitative data suggest that other features of the organizational context not measured on the sur- vey may have affected the championing activities and thus altered the likelihood of championing success. For example, the presence of external pres- sures such as impending regulation and industry competition was said to enhance a champion's abil- ity to frame an issue as urgent. Of the 22 champions interviewed, 8 stated that their companies acted on issues not only because of their efforts, but because of external pressures such as regulation or compet- itive advantage, and 7 of those 8 made remarks such as "I conveyed pressure to meet the legislative deadline" or "I told [top management] that we had to act quickly to beat the competition to the mar- ket."

In addition, champions cited resistant colleagues as impediments to their efforts. Successful and un- successful champions mentioned the presence of antagonists in their companies, and some described altering their championing behaviors to woo and ultimately win them over. One champion blamed his inability to sell his issue on "a bunch of stub- born Texans" in the top management ranks of his company; another stated that "one of the key play- ers had a different agenda, and I basically had to 'suck up' to get him to buy in."


This research provides evidence that each of the proposed championing activities-identify- ing, packaging (framing and presenting), and sell- ing-contributes to the success of an environ- mental championing episode. Champions of environmental issues who were successful in their endeavors exhibited specific behaviors as- sociated with each of the activities, and they

degree than did champions who were not unsuc- cessful. A revised framework for championing natural environmental issues, shown in Figure 2, is offered to depict the quantitative and qualita- tive findings.

The qualitative results revealed factors in addi- tion to those in Figure 1 contributing to successful environmental championing episodes. For exam- ple, selling environmental issues may not simply be a matter of performing certain influence behav- iors, but may also require accurately timing those behaviors. These findings support those of Ashford and colleagues (1991) and Egri (1995), who found that the appropriate timing of issue selling was associated with success in sponsoring controversial organizational issues. Some successful environ- mental champions apparently created their own "good timing": by framing an issue as urgent, suc- cessful champions pronounced that it was time for the targets to act on the issue.

The qualitative results concerning issue framing provided insights that went beyond the statistical findings on urgency and local/global impact. Champions cited framing environmental issues in other ways-as simple, cutting-edge, relevant to corporate values, and good publicity-as reasons for their championing success. Moreover, although the quantitative results suggested that most cham- pions, whether successful or unsuccessful, framed their issues as opportunities, the qualitative results revealed that framing an environmental issue as a financial opportunity may be one of the keys to a successful championing episode. Not surprisingly, previous theory and research on issue sponsorship acknowledges this specificity regarding conveying an opportunity: framing an issue as having a high financial payoff has been associated with issue- selling success (Ashford et al., 1991; Dutton & Ash- ford, 1993). Thus, one universal blueprint for fram- ing environmental issues cannot be drawn. Each champion must create a unique frame for his or her issue by first emphasizing the financial opportuni- ties it offers and then creating a mosaic of framing dimensions tailored to the distinctive features of the issue and the context of the organization.

Championing an Environmental Issue Like Any Other Business Issue

Is championing environmental issues any differ- ent from championing other "hot" organizational issues? This research did not make such a compar- ison, and thus it is not possible here to answer the question conclusively. The results do imply, how- ever, that champions of environmental issues are

exhibited many of these behaviors to a greater

564 August

more successful in their efforts when they cham-

Andersson and Bateman

FIGURE 2 Revised Framework for Championing Natural Environmental Issues

Potential Envinnmimenvtal Issues Facing Business

Championing Activities Indicators of a Successful Championing Episode

Idettifyiug Envi onl ental Issues * Scanning behaviors -I

Packsaging EnviazmnIAntal Issues * Issue framing

Financial opportunity, urgent, local impact, simple, relevant to company values, cutting-edge, good publicity

* Issue presentation Drama and emotion, formal and businesslike, metaphors

Selling Environmental Issues * Influence behaviors

Rational persuasion, coalition, inspirational appeal, exchange, pressure

* Timing of selling

pion their issues like "any other business issue." In other words, successful environmental champions usually-except when the environmental para- digms of their organizations are strong-tend to downplay the "hotness" of their issues, instead re- lying on formal business language and familiar pro- tocol. This finding parallels previous research sug- gesting that the issues that attract support in business organizations are those that are concrete, formally presented, and congruent with strategic direction (e.g., Ashford et al., 1991; Dutton & Ash- ford, 1993).

For example, presenting an environmental issue using formal and businesslike language rather than impassioned environmental rhetoric was more of- ten associated with championing success. This finding contradicts theory from the literatures on social problems and environmental psychology, which suggests that controversial issues (including environmental issues) should be presented with dramatic and emotional language and images (e.g., Rappaport & Dillon, 1991; Stem, 1992). These lit- eratures, however, focus on selling issues to the general public rather than to executives in business organizations (Stern, 1992). In a business setting, where emotional restraint is expected (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1991), using dramatic stories and emotional language may be considered inappropriate and in- effective.



Top Manatgment Attention * Naming issue as program/policy * Creation of task force devoted to issue

Top ManageAmAnt Action * Allocation of time to issue * Allocation of money to issue

Champion Perception * Successful vs. unsuccessful initiative

Internal and External Context * Corporate environmental paradigm (+) * Regulatory requirements (+) * Competitive pressures (+) * Presence of antagonists (-)

Other findings from this research reflect champi- ons' success with a businesslike approach. Suc- cessful champions scanned the business environ- ment, collecting information on their issues from sources such as industry and environmental con- ferences, environmental consultants, and competi- tors. They framed their environmental issues as financial opportunities and described them in jar- gon and metaphors widely used and accepted in the business world (for instance, win-win solution, cutting-edge, team player). Further, most champi- ons, successful and unsuccessful alike, used ratio- nal persuasion in attempts to convince higher-ups of the merits of their issues. Broadly considered, these findings suggest the possibility that champi- oning environmental issues is not fundamentally different from championing other types of organi- zational issues, at least in business organizations without strong environmental paradigms.

Rationality versus the Soft Touch

For the most part, the rational and soft influence tactics demonstrated in previous research (e.g., Falbe & Yukl, 1992; Yukl et al., 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992) to be most effective for upward in- fluence attempts and gaining top management sup- port for new initiatives were the tactics used most often by environmental champions. Most environ-

. -1

I .








2000 565


Academy of Management Journal

mental champions, whether successful or unsuc- cessful, used rational persuasion in selling their issues to key superiors. As described earlier, this finding corresponds with the general tendency of champions in this study to adhere to business lan- guage and protocol in their championing efforts. Interestingly, the results did not support the premise that frequent use of rational persuasion is critical to success in championing a complex and technical issue such as an environmental issue (Howell & Higgins, 1990). Rather, the manner in which rational persuasion was practiced seemed to be critical (Frost & Egri, 1991).

Successful environmental championing episodes were characterized by the use of two of the softer influence tactics: coalition building and inspira- tional appeal. Successful champions strongly voiced their perception that enlisting the aid or endorsement of others gave them added credibility and legitimacy during selling attempts. On the other hand, successful champions were hesitant to credit inspirational appeal as a key to their success. Ironically, the champions who were not successful were the most vocal concerning the use of inspira- tional appeal; unsuccessful champions repeatedly mentioned failure to inspire others as a major rea- son for their demise. Possibly, successful champi- ons took their inspirational behaviors for granted or were too modest to commend themselves on this more visionary and visceral aspect of championing.

Another soft tactic, consultation, was used less often by champions and did not predict champion- ing success. Perhaps champions were unsure of how to get top management involved in their ini- tiative, or perhaps they felt that these managers lacked the environmental knowledge to play a con- sultative role (Newman & Breeden, 1992). Future research should more closely examine champion use of consultation, as well as the use of harder influence tactics such as pressure, exchange, and sanctions.

The Importance of Context

Although the contextual variables influencing the environmental championing process were not the primary focus of this investigation, the impor- tance of context was highlighted in several in- stances. Use of drama and emotion in presenting an issue, for example, contributed to success only when an organization had a strong environmental paradigm. Likewise, the effectiveness of inspira- tional appeal in selling an issue was enhanced when the paradigm was strong. These more overt championing behaviors may betray a passion for

or even extremist in organizations that do not rec- ognize environmental issues as important. Conse- quently, champions employing these behaviors were successful only when the paradigms were supportive of environmental concerns (Shrivas- tava, 1995). It is also possible that champions as- sessed their organizations' environmental para- digms and decided whether or not to use these behaviors (Ashford et al., 1995).

The qualitative results concerning the effects of antagonists and external pressures such as regula- tion and competition on the environmental cham- pioning process provide promising avenues for future research. Although this study did not for- mally test for these effects, some champions cited impending environmental regulation, competitive advantage, and resistant colleagues as stimuli or impediments to their efforts. Regulation and com- petition seemed to help foster a sense of urgency, aiding champions in their efforts to gain recogni- tion and acceptance for issues. Antagonists pro- vided an added impetus for action, challenging champions to use more aggressive selling behav- iors. These findings complement research on the role of competitive and regulatory pressures (e.g., Post & Altman, 1992; Winn, 1995) and antagonists (Markham et al., 1991) in environmental issue sell- ing and championing.



This research provides a first examination of the process of championing environmental issues. We have offered a new operational definition of the gen- eral championing process and built a framework for championing environmental issues, thereby contrib- uting to the fields of organizational innovation, issues management, corporate environmental management, psychology of global environmental change, and so- cial influence.

Complementing champion research focusing on the personality traits and leadership behaviors of champions (e.g., Howell & Higgins, 1990; Maidique, 1980; Schon, 1963), this research helps to fill a void in the organizational innovation literature by de- veloping and empirically testing an integrative def- inition of the championing process. Moreover, the methodology used in this research, comparing suc- cessful and unsuccessful championing episodes, offers a useful means of researching championing and provides evidence that champions experience and are willing to describe both success and failure in their endeavors.

This research extends the work of Dutton and her

566 August

the environment that could be viewed as eccentric

Andersson and Bateman

colleagues (e.g., Ashford et al., 1995; Dutton, 1993; Dutton & Ashford, 1993), advancing the understand- ing of how sponsors bring issues to a strategic agenda. Specifically, this research provides strong empirical evidence for much of the conceptual work on pack- aging and selling hot organizational issues, testing part of the Dutton and Ashford (1993) issue-selling framework and revealing complexities that parallel those found in other research by those authors (e.g., Ashford et al., 1991). Furthermore, this research syn- thesizes previous research on innovation champions and issue sponsors, offering a new perspective on the issue-sponsoring process.

For the emerging field of corporate environmental management, this research explains a micro-level process that organizations can use to achieve environ- mental change (Johannson, 1992; Post & Altman, 1992; Stern, 1992). In particular, the research helps explain how individuals can be the instruments for change as organizations incorporate environmental issues into their overall corporate strategies. Further, this research reinforces the notion that organizations have environmental paradigms that affect the way that environmental issues are interpreted and acted upon (Purser et al., 1995; Shrivastava, 1995). More- over, this research suggests that, depending on an organization's environmental paradigm, environmen- tal issues might best be brought to the table much like any other business issue, and not presented with dra- matic and impassioned pleas.

The diverse fields of work on the psychology of global environmental change and social influence in organizations also gain from this research. We help to explain how individual actions can affect global environmental change by showing how in- dividuals help business organizations to under- stand and act on environmental issues (Stern, 1992). Further, this research touches upon the im- portant questions "What makes an environmental issue sellable?" and "How can personal values and behaviors be changed to prevent further environ- mental destruction?" Finally, the present research enriches the body of work on social influence in organizations by validating and elaborating prior findings concerning tactics used in influencing su- periors (Yukl et al., 1993; Yukl & Tracey, 1992).

The primary benefit of this research for managers in business organizations is the information it pro- vides on how individuals can help decision makers to recognize and take action on issues in the in- creasingly important domain of the natural envi- ronment. Any employee can become an environ- mental champion, and thus it is important for managers to encourage those employees who have

tal issues to channel this passion or interest in a way that benefits the organization.

Potential and actual environmental champions may also benefit from this research. Broadly con- strued, these findings offer guidance on how to identify, package, and sell environmental issues in business organizations. Champions may be well advised to recognize, however, that there is no sin- gle formula for successfully championing environ- mental issues. It is important that champions read the signals concerning organizational context and determine which championing behaviors are best suited for their own issues and organizations.

With regard to specific behavioral recommenda- tions, it is critical that environmental champions find the right time to champion. Alternatively, champions can create their own right time by mak- ing others aware that their issues are urgent. Cham- pions can also do their homework by collecting background research on their issues, attending con- ferences related to them, and discussing the issues with colleagues inside and outside of their organi- zations. In packaging issues for other employees, a champion should possibly forgo theatrics (unless the relevant organization's environmental para- digm is strong) and present the environmental is- sue like any other business issue, emphasizing its financial impact and using formal and businesslike language and protocol. Furthermore, in trying to influence superiors to take action on the issue, a champion may appeal to their aspirations and ideals by creating a vision of what the environmental pro- gram or innovation could bring. In doing so, the champion should build coalitions of respected em- ployees to assist the effort. Above all, it is vital that the champion recognize that championing environ- mental issues is a challenging pursuit, one that can as easily result in failure as in success.

Limitations and Future Research

Our use of retrospective, cross-sectional data rather than longitudinal data precluded examining the temporal order and relationships among the championing activities as well as the causal rela- tionships between each of the activities and cham- pioning success. Moderately high correlations were found among some of the championing behaviors, signaling potential relationships that were not ex- amined. Further, the use of self-report data in ex- amining the championing process and outcomes created the potential for common method variance and social desirability problems. In addition, the nonrandom identification and selection of champi- ons based on peer recommendation and publicized

2000 567

a passion for or a technical interest in environmen-

Academy of Management Journal

successful environmental programs or innovations could inhibit generalizability.

Study results, however, provide evidence that lessen some of the methodological concerns. Cowork- ers of champions completed a survey assessing cham- pions' behaviors, and the results indicated that champions provided valid assessments of their cham- pioning episodes. Additionally, a number of champi- ons completed a second survey describing a contrast- ing championing episode. Thus, through design, measurement, and statistical techniques, the impact of social desirability and common method variance were somewhat alleviated. Moreover, the results sur- rounding champions' success in championing envi- ronmental issues as they would other business issues suggest that the championing framework tested in this investigation may be generalizable to other types of champions and issues.

Future research is necessary to remedy the short- comings and build on the findings of the present research. Longitudinal studies, in particular, are needed to clarify the chronological order, the order of importance, and the relationships among the three primary championing activities. It is possible that certain championing behaviors are performed only in conjunction with others and that some be- haviors are more important than others in deter- mining championing success. Studies using alter- native means of measuring championing behaviors, organizational contextual features, and champion- ing success, such as content analysis of corporate documents, field observation, and in-depth inter- views, would also be beneficial.

Future research should also focus on organiza- tional contextual influences on championing envi- ronmental issues, as they are likely to be numerous and varied. One recommended research idea is to examine the championing of a single type of environ- mental issue in a variety of contexts (varying regula- tory conditions, for instance) to determine how the context affects the selection of championing behav- iors and the likelihood of championing success.

Does a successful environmental championing episode necessarily translate into a successful en- vironmental program or innovation? This research examined championing success, not program or in- novation success, as the dependent variable; the success of an environmental championing episode may also be examined as an independent variable influencing the success of an environmental pro- gram or innovation. Subsequently, the success of an environmental program or innovation may in- fluence future environmental championing epi- sodes involving related and other environmental issues. These are important areas for future re-

Additionally, studies examining and comparing environmental champions themselves are recom- mended. Do environmental champions of differing organizational statuses use different championing behaviors? Studies exploring episodes involving multiple champions and how their behaviors may detract from and complement one another would also be important. Furthermore, studies investigat- ing the point at which the champion role ends and the project/program leader role begins would be particularly helpful in understanding not only the championing, but also the implementation, of an environmental program or innovation.

Finally, future research should be performed not only on the championing of environmental issues, but also on the factors besides championing that lead to a successful environmental program or innovation. No doubt many factors beyond individual initiative coalesce to create successful environmental programs and innovations in business organizations.


Ashford, S. J., Dutton, J., & O'Neill, R. 1991. Moves from the middle: Profiles of middle managers' success- ful and unsuccessful issue selling to top manage- ment. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Miami.

Ashford, S. J., Rothbard, N. P., Piderit, S. K., & Dutton, J. E. 1995. Out on a limb: The role of context and impression management in issue selling. Paper pre- sented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Vancouver.

Belsley, D. A., Kuh, E., & Welsch, R. E. 1980. Regression diagnostics. New York: Wiley.

Berry, W. D., & Feldman, S. 1985. Multiple regression in practice (Sage University Paper Series on Quantita- tive Applications in the Social Sciences, 07-50). Lon- don and Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Bowman, J. S., & Davis, C. 1989. Industry and the envi- ronment: Chief executive officer attitudes, 1976 and 1986. Environmental Management, 13: 243-249.

Catton, W. R., Jr., & Dunlap, R. E. 1980. A new ecological paradigm for post-exuberant sociology. American Behavioral Scientist, 24: 15-47.

Culnan, M. J. 1983. Environmental scanning: The effects of task complexity and source accessibility on infor- mation gathering behavior. Decision Sciences, 14: 194-206.

Dutton, J. E. 1993. The making of organizational oppor- tunities: An interpretive pathway to organizational change. In B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior, vol. 15: 195- 226. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.


568 August

Dutton, J. E., & Ashford, S. J. 1993. Selling issues to top

Andersson and Bateman

management. Academy of Management Review, 18: 397-428.

Dutton, J. E., & Jackson, S. E. 1987. Categorizing strategic issues: Links to organizational action. Academy of Management Review, 12: 76-90.

Dutton, J. E., Stumpf, S., & Wagner, D. 1990. Diagnosing strategic issues and managerial investment of reve- nues. In P. Shrivastava & R. Lamb (Eds.), Advances in strategic management, vol. 6: 143-167. Green- wich, CT: JAI Press.

Dutton, J. E., Walton, E., & Abrahamson, E. 1989. Impor- tant dimensions of strategic issues: Separating the wheat from the chaff. Journal of Management Stud- ies, 26: 379-396.

Egri, C. P. 1995. The politics of an innovation in public policy: The development of organic food regula- tions in British Columbia. Working paper, Simon Fraser University.

Falbe, C. M., & Yukl, G. 1992. Consequences for managers of using single influence tactics and combinations of tactics. Academy of Management Journal, 35: 638- 652.

Frost, P. J., & Egri, C. P. 1991. The political process of innovation. In B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior, vol. 13: 229- 295. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Ginsberg, A., & Abrahamson, E. 1991. Champions of change and strategic shifts: The role of internal and external change advocates. Journal of Management Studies, 28: 173-190.

Gladwin, T. N., Kennelly, J. J., & Krause, T. 1995. Shifting paradigms for sustainable development: Implica- tions for management theory and research. Academy of Management Review, 20: 874-907.

Goitein, B. 1989. Organizational decision-making and energy conservation investments. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12: 143-151.

Henriques, I., & Sadorsky, P. 1995. The determinants of firms that formulate environmental plans. In D. Col- lins & M. Starik (Eds.), Research in corporate social performance and policy, supplement 1: 67-97. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Howell, J. M., & Higgins, C. A. 1990. Champions of tech- nological innovation. Administrative Science Quar- terly, 35: 317-341.

Howell, J. M., Shea, C. M., & Higgins, C. A. 1998. Champi- ons of product innovations: Defining, developing, and validating a measure of champion strength. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings: Technology and Information Management (TIM): B1-B6.

Hume, S. 1991. The green revolution: McDonald's. Ad- vertising Age, 62(5): 32.

Johannson, L. 1992. Environmental leadership: Who are the TQEM champions? Total Quality Environmen-

Kessler, E. H., & Chakrabarti, A. K. 1996. Innovation speed: A conceptual model of context, antecedents and outcomes. Academy of Management Review, 21: 1143-1191.

Maidique, M. A. 1980. Entrepreneurs, champions, and technological innovation. Sloan Management Re- view, 21(2): 59-76.

Markham, S. K., Green, S. G., & Basu, R. 1991. Champi- ons and antagonists: Relationships with R&D project characteristics and management. Journal of Engi- neering and Technology Management, 8: 217-242.

Mazen, A. M., Graf, L. A., Kellogg, C. E., & Hemmasi, M. 1987. Statistical power in contemporary manage- ment research. Academy of Management Journal, 30: 369-380.

McLaughlin, A. 1993. Regarding nature. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Meima, R. 1994. What do you mean, "paradigm?" Ex- ploring the fragmented world of environmental meaning and practice through the analysis of lin- guistic artifacts. Paper presented at the Third Inter- national Research Conference of the Greening of In- dustry Network, Copenhagen.

Morrison, C. 1991. Managing environmental affairs: Corporate practices in the U.S., Canada and Eu- rope. New York: Conference Board.

Newman, J. C., & Breeden, K. M. 1992. Managing in the environmental era: Lessons from environmental leaders. Columbia Journal of World Business, 27(3 & 4): 210-221.

Nielson, S. L., & Saranson, I. G. 1981. Emotion, person- ality, and selective attention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41: 945-960.

Pinchot, G., III. 1985. Intrapreneuring. New York: Harper & Row.

Post, J. E., & Altman, B. W. 1992. Models of corporate greening: How corporate social policy and organiza- tional learning inform leading-edge environmental management. In J. E. Post (Ed.), Research in corpo- rate social performance and policy, vol. 13: 3-30. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Purser, R. E., Park, C., & Montuori, A. 1995. Limits to anthropocentrism: Toward an ecocentric organiza- tion paradigm? Academy of Management Review, 20: 1053-1089.

Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. I. 1991. Emotional contrast strat- egies as means of social influence: Lessons from criminal interrogators and bill collectors. Academy of Management Journal, 34: 749-775.

Rappaport, A., & Dillon, P. 1991. Private-sector environ- mental decision making. In R. A. Chechile & S. Car- lisle (Eds.), Environmental decision making: A multidisciplinary perspective: 238-268. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Rice, F. 1993. Who scores best on the environment? For- tal Management, Autumn: 119-123.

2000 569

tune, July 26: 114-122.

Academy of Management Journal

Roberts, E. B., & Fusfeld, A. C. 1981. Critical function: Needed roles in the innovation process. In R. Katz (Ed.), Career issues in human resource manage- ment: 182-207. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Sackmann, S. 1989. The role of metaphors in organization transformation. Human Relations, 42: 463-485.

Schmidheiny, S. 1992. Changing course: A global busi- ness perspective on development and the environ- ment. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Schon, D. A. 1963. Champions for radical new inven- tions. Harvard Business Review, 41(2): 77-86.

Sharma, S. 1997. A longitudinal investigation of corpo- rate environmental responsiveness: Antecedents and outcomes. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings: 460-464.

Shetzer, L., Stackman, R. W., & Moore, L. F. 1991. Busi- ness-environment attitudes and the new environ- mental paradigm. Journal of Environmental Educa- tion, 22(4): 14-21.

Shrivastava, P. 1995. Ecocentric management for a risk society. Academy of Management Review, 20: 118-137.

Sjoberg, L. 1989. Global change and human action: Psy- chological perspectives. International Social Sci- ence Journal, 41: 413-432.

Spector, P. E. 1994. Using self-report questionnaires in OB research: A comment on the use of a controver- sial method. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15: 385-392.

Starik, M. 1995. Research on organizations and the nat- ural environment: Some paths we have traveled, the "field" ahead. In D. Collins & M. Starik (Eds.), Re- search in corporate social performance and policy, supplement 1: 1-41. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Starik, M., & Rands, G. P. 1995. Weaving an integrated web: Multilevel and multisystem perspectives of ecologically sustainable organizations. Academy of Management Review, 20: 908-935.

Stead, W. E., & Stead, J. G. 1992. Management for a small planet: Strategic decision making and the environment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Stern, P. 1992. Psychological dimensions of global envi- ronmental change. In M. R. Rosenzweig & L. W. Porter (Eds.), Annual review of psychology, vol. 43: 269-302. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.

Stokes, M. E., Davis, C. S., & Koch, G. G. 1995. Categor- ical data analysis using the SAS system. Cary, NC: SAS Institute.

Strauss, A. L. 1987. Qualitative analysis for social sci- entists. London: Cambridge University Press.

Swap, W. C. 1991. Psychological factors in environmen- tal decision making: Social dilemmas. In R. A. Chechile & S. Carlisle (Eds.), Environmental deci- sion making: A multidisciplinary perspective: 14- 37. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. 1989. Using multivar- iate statistics. New York: HarperCollins.

Thomas, J. B., Clark, S. M., & Gioia, D. A. 1993. Strategic sensemaking and organizational performance: Link- ages among scanning, interpretation, action, and out- comes. Academy of Management Journal, 36: 239- 270.

Throop, G. M., Starik, M., & Rands, G. P. 1993. Sustain- able strategy in a greening world: Integrating the natural environment into strategic management. In P. Shrivastava, A. Huff, & J. Dutton (Eds.), Advances in strategic management, vol. 9: 63-92. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Tsoukas, H. 1991. The missing link: A transformational view of metaphors in organizational science. Acad- emy of Management Review, 16: 566-585.

Winn, M. 1995. Corporate leadership and policies for the natural environment. In D. Collins & M. Starik (Eds.), Research in corporate social performance and pol- icy, supplement 1: 127-161. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Winsemius, P., & Guntram, U. 1992. Responding to the environmental challenge. Business Horizons, 35(2): 12-20.

Yukl, G., Falbe, C. M., & Youn, J. Y. 1993. Patterns of influence behavior for managers. Group and Orga- nization Management, 18: 5-28.

Yukl, G., & Tracey, B. 1992. Consequences of influence tactics used with subordinates, peers, and the boss. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77: 525-535.

Lynne M. Andersson is an assistant professor of human resource management at Temple University's Fox School of Business. She received her Ph.D. from the Kenan- Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests focus on individual attitudes and behaviors in the workplace, particularly those of a deviant nature and those related to pressing business-society issues.

Thomas S. Bateman is a chaired professor at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia. He earned his doctorate in organizational behavior from Indiana University. His current research interests include mana- gerial goal hierarchies, proactive employee behavior, and intrinsic motivation.

570 August

  • Article Contents
    • p. 548
    • p. 549
    • p. 550
    • p. 551
    • p. 552
    • p. 553
    • p. 554
    • p. 555
    • p. 556
    • p. 557
    • p. 558
    • p. 559
    • p. 560
    • p. 561
    • p. 562
    • p. 563
    • p. 564
    • p. 565
    • p. 566
    • p. 567
    • p. 568
    • p. 569
    • p. 570
  • Issue Table of Contents
    • The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Aug., 2000), pp. 529-789
      • Front Matter [pp. 529 – 737]
      • Special Research Forum on the Management of Organizations in the Natural Environment
        • From the Editors [pp. 535 – 537]
        • Introduction to the Special Research forum on the Management of Organizations in the Natural Environment: A Field Emerging from Multiple Paths, with Many Challenges Ahead [pp. 539 – 546]
        • Individual Environmental Initiative: Championing Natural Environmental Issues in U.S. Business Organizations [pp. 548 – 570]
        • Leadership in the North American Environmental Sector: Values, Leadership Styles, and Contexts of Environmental Leaders and Their Organizations [pp. 571 – 604]
        • The Roles of Supervisory Support Behaviors and Environmental Policy in Employee "Ecoinitiatives" at Leading-Edge European Companies [pp. 605 – 626]
        • Pollution Reduction Preferences of U.S. Environmental Managers: Applying Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior [pp. 627 – 641]
        • Environmental Ethical Decision Making in the U.S. Metal-Finishing Industry [pp. 642 – 662]
        • Effects of "Best Practices" of Environmental Management on Cost Advantage: The Role of Complementary Assets [pp. 663 – 680]
        • Managerial Interpretations and Organizational Context as Predictors of Corporate Choice of Environmental Strategy [pp. 681 – 697]
        • Industry Self-Regulation without Sanctions: The Chemical Industry's Responsible Care Program [pp. 698 – 716]
        • Why Companies Go Green: A Model of Ecological Responsiveness [pp. 717 – 736]
      • Research Notes
        • Integrating Justice and Social Exchange: The Differing Effects of Fair Procedures and Treatment on Work Relationships [pp. 738 – 748]
        • Human Resource Strategy and Career Mobility in Professional Service Firms: A Test of an Options-Based Model [pp. 749 – 760]
        • The Roles of Departmental and Position Power in Job Evaluation [pp. 761 – 771]
        • Performance and Satisfaction in Conflicted Interdependent Groups: When and How Does Self-Esteem Make a Difference? [pp. 772 – 782]
      • Errata [p. 783]
      • Back Matter [pp. 784 – 789]