This paper aims to make two conceptual contributions to the greening of industry literature. Firstly, we propose that the greening process can be conceptualized as an issue lifecycle dynamics with multi-dimensional struggles between 'greening' pressures and industry response strategies. To capture the endogenous dynamics, we develop a Dialectic Issue LifeCycle model with five phases, which conceptualize how these struggles play out over time. Secondly, we propose that issue lifecycle dynamics are also influenced by (external) alignments with contextual field-level developments. This proposition accommodates the notion that industries not only face 'green' issues but also other relevant pressures. We apply the model to a historical case study: air pollution problems and responses from American automakers (1943-1985). The case study presents a good match with the first three phases of the model, but shows deviations in the fourth and fifth phase, which are due to: a) decreasing pressure from public opinion; b) limited spillovers from air pollution to consumer demand; c) rise of competing issues; and d) strong resistance from the car industry. The findings underline that the greening of industry cannot be fully understood by looking only at the focal issue (e.g. air pollution). Broader developments in industry and external contexts also need to be taken into account. © 2012 Elsevier Inc..