Managing Incomplementarity: Implementing Social Responsibility in Companies

  • Simon Dabrowski
  • Florian LottermoserEmail author
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Publicly listed companies nowadays face contradictory expectations from their institutionalised environments concerning social responsibility and sustainability (SRS) on the one hand, and financial performance on the other. From the perspective of the financial logic, the economic performance of social responsibility is uncertain, whereas sustainability views the financial logic as obstructive to achieving long-term regenerative capacity of economic and non-economic resources. Thus, enacting both institutional logics in decision-making and strategy can create goal-conflicts or incomplementarity within organisations. Incomplementarity is an obstacle to the implementation of SRS. Therefore, incomplementarity needs to be resolved and managed in order to ensure organisational reproduction. This paper presents an empirical analysis of the organisational social responsibility strategies dealing with the incomplementary institutional logics in German publicly listed companies. The results are based on 14 qualitative management interviews in three German publicly listed companies (DAX30) and emerge from a current research project granted by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Organisational strategies as patterns of managing incomplementarity internally are sketched which can be shown to be interwoven with institutional intentions as part of institutional work. Finally, an integrated framework is proposed for analysing the management of incomplementarity as an interplay between social responsibility strategies and institutional intentions that can serve to assess the different outcomes of social responsibility and sustainability.


Institutional incomplementarity Social responsibility Financial logic Sociology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyMartin-Luther-University Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany
  2. 2.Faculty of Business, Economics and Social SciencesUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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