Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 4, pp 735–751 | Cite as

A Cognitive Elaboration Model of Sustainability Decision Making: Investigating Financial Managers’ Orientation Toward Environmental Issues



This empirical paper examines individual-level cognitive factors associated with developing an orientation to sustainable development issues among a population of business practitioners from France. Across two studies, we survey 180 financial managers and 83 finance students, as well as 144 managers from other business disciplines and 117 non-finance business students. We consider ability and motivation variables integrated and adapted into a cognitive elaboration model for sustainable decision making. Specifically, we examine the degree of influence of two factors on the ethical sensitivity to sustainability: the moral maturity of the individual, and the perceived moral intensity of a sustainability issue. Our investigation offers insights into how financial managers perceive the importance of sustainability for corporate strategy.


Chief financial officers Cognitive moral development Corporate environmental responsibility Defining issues test 2 Ethical decision making Person–situation interactionist perspective 

List of Abbreviations


Analysis of variance


Cognitive elaboration model


Chief financial officer


Chartered institute of management accountants


Corporate social responsibility


Defining issues test


Environmental attitudes


Executive Master of Business Administration


European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research


Master of Business Administration


New environmental paradigm


Nouvelles Régulations Economiques (New economical regulations)


Perceived role of ethics and social responsibility


Person–situation interactionist


United Nations Environment Programme


World Business Council for Sustainable Development


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEREFIGE-ICN Business School, Nancy-MetzNancyFrance
  2. 2.Palumbo-Donahue Schools of Business, Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.CEREFIGE-ICN Business SchoolNancy-MetzFrance

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