The impact of COVID-19 on the strategic relevance of sustainability a qualitative industry research focusing on german DAX30 companies

  • Lukas Hannes Pahl (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit societies and businesses in unprecedented ways. With corporate sustainability having developed a substantial relevance for corporates in recent years, it was widely feared that, as in previous crises, the relevance of sustainability to the private sector would decline as a result of the economic downturn. In addition to the unique characteristics of the current crisis, the role of sustainability for companies has changed in the meantime, as pressure from external and internal sustainability drivers, as well as the embedding of the issue in organizations, have increased. Combining the research streams of crisis effects on corporate sustainability, strategic corporate sustainability, and sustainability implementation, this study applies the format of qualitative industry research to examine the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the strategic relevance of sustainability. Interviews with 16high-level strategists and sustainability experts were conducted with a focus on multinational corporations headquartered in Germany. The results indicate that the pandemic had no noticeable negative effect on companies' sustainability efforts. Furthermore, the study offers new, valuable explanations and a basis for future research by generating indicative evidence for moderating effects of sustainability drivers and implementation levels of sustainability. The findings underline the increasing importance of sustainability for the private sector and point towards a more robust embedding than in previous crises.
Date of Award19 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorVera Herédia Colaço (Supervisor)


  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic
  • Crisis
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Strategic sustainability
  • Strategic CSR
  • Strategy implementation
  • Sustainability drivers
  • Resilience
  • DAX30


  • Mestrado em Gestão

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