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University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Reputational spirals: How reputational imprints constrain sustainability–driven innovation



This paper examines how corporate reputations related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues can imprint upon firms, thereby shaping future sustainability–driven innovation. We argue that during periods of crisis ESG–related criticism imposes a lasting constraint upon organizations and their sustainability–related strategies, thereby compelling divergence between firms over time. We test our hypotheses using a panel data set of 4,738 companies across a 12–year period beginning during the 2007–2008 global financial crisis. Results suggest that firms with positive reputational imprints respond to public ESG criticisms by increasing their sustainability–driven innovation, whereas firms with negative reputational imprints compromise such innovation. Although competition is shown to amplify such disparate reputational spirals, supply–chain related scrutiny can suppress negative reputational spirals while accentuating positive ones.


Nareuporn (Bell) Piyasinchai is a PhD Candidate at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. Nareuporn’s sustainability research lies at the intersection between strategy and organizational theory. Her current projects examine tradeoffs between legitimate conformity and strategic differentiation in organizations’ pursuit of sustainability, and firms’ strategic responses to normative pressures. She holds MPhil in Finance from Cambridge Judge Business School and BA in Economics from Chulalongkorn University. Professionally, Nareuporn co-founded NextOnc, a precision medicine startup in Cambridge. Her social venture focuses on healthcare innovations and promises to bring a targeted life-saving approach of precision medicine to countless individuals. Prior to her PhD, she had industry experiences at the Bank of Thailand and at the management consulting company Korn Ferry Hay Group.

Nareuporn Piyasinchai

Nareuporn Piyasinchai

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