The recent flurry of sustainable development activity gives researchers an unparalleled opportunity to explore a sweeping societal phenomenon and its complex implications to the firm. This paper addresses the factors that contribute to intrafirm complexity such that they inhibit the execution of sustainable development initiatives. Unlike other papers, this research goes beyond simply analysing the adoption of sustainable development. This paper uses the perspective and actions of individuals to address the barriers that forestall the execution of sustainable development initiatives in the day-to-day operations of the firm. Through the application of the legitimacy judgment cycle, the paper develops nine propositions that address these barriers. Using published case studies for illustration and support, this paper provides researchers propositions that can be studied empirically and provides practitioners managerial implications that can assist in the day-to-day operations of the firm.
Keywords: sustainable development, legitimacy, legitimisation, internalisation, sustainability, organisational strategy, environmental strategy, triple bottom line, sustainable strategic management