Barriers to Corporate Sustainability in the U.S.

  •  Pavlina McGrady    
  •  Susan Golicic    


Sustainability is critical to the future success of businesses; those that do not implement sustainability initiatives may lose customers, investors, and/or profits. This study examines barriers to corporate sustainability, measured through the four dimensions of the Prism of Sustainability (environmental, social, economic, and institutional), a framework of sustainability not commonly used in business research. An online survey of sustainability managers from a variety of industries in the United States distributed in the spring of 2021 yielded a total of 361 responses. Results reveal that lack of leadership and lack of governance were the most predominant barriers to corporate sustainability. Surprisingly, the most frequently cited barrier in the literature—resources—was not identified as a significant barrier for U.S. companies. The impact of the pandemic was also qualitatively explored to see if such constraints might have a nuanced effect on corporate sustainability efforts. This research expands the contexts in which the Prism of Sustainability is applied in business studies, highlighting it as a means to assess corporate sustainability. Results provide important managerial implications, highlighting the importance of measures to govern the organization’s sustainability effort and the critical role leadership plays. Sustainable management is a necessity for business, and therefore, addressing barriers to achieving it will be imperative for companies’ futures.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4725
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4733
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: semiannual

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