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Reactivity to sustainability metrics: A configurational study of motivation and capacity

Slager, R., Gond, J-P. ORCID: 0000-0002-9331-6957 & Crilly, D. (2020). Reactivity to sustainability metrics: A configurational study of motivation and capacity. Business Ethics Quarterly, 31(2), pp. 275-307. doi: 10.1017/beq.2020.20


Previous research on reactivity – defined as changing organisational behaviour to better conform to the criteria of measurement in response to being measured – has found significant variation in company responses towards sustainability metrics. We propose that reactivity is driven by dialogue, motivation and capacity in a configurational way. Empirically, we use fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to analyse company responses to the sustainability index FTSE4Good. We find evidence of complimentary and substitute effects between motivation and capacity. Based on these effects we develop a typology of reactivity to sustainability metrics, which also theorises the use of metrics as tools for performance feedback and the building of calculative capacity. We show that when reactivity is studied configurationally, we can identify previously underacknowledged types of responses. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications for studying and using sustainability metrics as governance tools for responsible behaviour.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020 Business Ethics Quarterly. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA); sustainability metrics; reactivity; motivation; capacity; dialogue
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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