Purpose ? The purpose of this paper is to conduct an empirical analysis among large German companies to enhance the understanding of whether and which institutional factors influence the application of sustainability management tools. Stepping from corporate sustainability visions to implementation requires the application of management tools. A multitude of sustainability management tools have been proposed in literature. Research on their application in corporate practice is, however, scarce. Design/methodology/approach ? Based on a survey of large German companies and publicly available data, this paper tests the influence of corporate sustainability networks, indices, standards and the awareness of sustainability management tools on their application in corporate practice. Findings ? A particularly strong positive relation exists between awareness and application of sustainability management tools. Standards are also found to have a positive influence, while the influence of networks and indices is less strong. Our findings suggest that the application of sustainability management tools can be fostered through the promotion and increasing awareness of tools. Research limitations/implications ? The analysis is based on a survey of large German companies. Factors of institutional isomorphism are tested. Further research is needed for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the influence of further aspects such as competitive and psychological factors. Practical implications ? The findings of this paper suggest that the application of sustainability management tools can be fostered particularly well through increasing awareness and the active promotion of tools. Networks, indices and standard help increase awareness. Originality/value ? The analysis unveils the role of institutional factors influencing the application sustainability management tools in corporate practice.
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