Mental Models of the Drivers of Corporate Sustainability and the Role of Cross-Functional Communication on their Content and Structure
Butrich Cisneros, M.
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Since corporate sustainability is a cross-functional challenge that has become an essential part of business, it is necessary to examine the drivers of its implementation. Cognitive structures in the form of mental models are relevant in the field of corporate sustainability as the way individuals in organizations make sense of these drivers will guide their decision-making and actions. It has been found that similarities in mental models impact performance as it facilitates cooperation and coordination. Therefore, this research aims to shine a light on those drivers and the role of cross-functional communication on the mental models of the drivers of corporate sustainability in a cross-functional environment. This research applies a quantitative single case study methodology and uses a standardized mental model elicitation procedure. Empirical data was collected from managers from five different functional areas. The findings show that the mental models of the drivers per functional area are aligned with their tasks and responsibilities and that people within functional areas have more similar mental models than across functional areas. This research could not find a relationship between the frequency of cross-functional communication and mental models’ similarities. However, a relationship was found between the number of areas an individual communicates with and the density of their mental models, limited to the perceived drivers. This offers valuable insight on how companies can better approach functions through the content of their mental models and enhance more desirable mental models’ structures.