The research for this book investigated organisational enactment of sustainability. The findings highlight barriers concerned with meaning construction that view nature as an excluded other.
Traditionally, wasted resources are considered a burden that imposes a cost on organisations. Yet, ecological sustainability principles underpinning the linked discourses of industrial ecology and the Circular Economy conceptualise waste as a resource, viewed as intrinsically valuable. Our research identified exemplar business organisations that had each changed their business models to resolve the tension of waste as a burden and/or resource. Analysis of how our exemplar organisations changed their business models to tackle pressing sustainability issues and to resolve the burden-resource tension highlighted the emergence of three themes framing their practices and decision making that we label organising narratives: obligation to nature; waste becomes a resource and disruptive innovation. Synthesising these cases through extant sustainability business model frameworks we reveal how incorporating circular flows and patterns into organisations' business models is enabled through the application, not always as a deliberate process, of systems thinking in those organisations.
© 2013, © 2013 Taylor & Francis. This paper closely examines how a particular individual makes sense of sustainability and how detailed analysis of enactments of sustainability at the individual level can contribute to understanding organisational-level enactment of sustainability practices. Taking a narrative approach, this paper selects and analyses one interview to understand how that person is responding to sustainability initiatives in her organisation. The findings suggest that the complex processes of meaning construction that underpin the enactment of sustainability involve identity validation, narrative support and reduction of polysemy. The paper argues that to boost the chances of success when implementing sustainability, organisations need to establish discursive space to engage with and support these three processes of sense-making. Methodologically, the paper demonstrates how a single interview/narrative can be analysed to progress the understanding of a complex, ambiguous and paradoxical problem like sustainability.
Perey, R & Benn, SH 2015, 'Organising for Ecological Repair: Reconstructing Land Management Practice', Organization and Environment: international journal of ecosocial research, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 458-477.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
In this article, we explore organising narratives that underpin the generation of effective ecological solutions. We examine the processes of meaning construction in relation to the development of sustainable land management practices in the Landcare organisation in Australia. Meaning construction is situated in a variety of contexts that are themselves strongly influenced by a meta-narrative, which Taylor has labelled the 'modern social imaginary': A shared system of meanings that captures the imaginations of individuals and shapes their social groupings and society. The shift in meaning construction is reflected in the emergence of a narrative of 'ecological repair' that involved a process of learning and knowledge development we have labelled protracted sense-making. Our research findings have led us to conclude that the development of successful ecological solutions require an active rewriting of the social imaginary.
Organizing for sustainability seeks systems change at a global level. This objective is captured in the phrase "Think global, act local"; the assumption is that global change will happen through summative local action. This article argues that local action will not necessarily produce systems change and that a new scale-independent categorization for interacting with systems is needed. I introduce the concept of fractal as a useful tool for engaging with problems of scale in organizational settings and argue that change for sustainability needs to be framed as a fractal narrative in order to facilitate implementation success.
Perey, R., Benn, S.H., Dunphy, D.C. & Edwards, M. 2008, 'Landcare : A narrative construction for ecological sustainability', The Questions We ask, Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Academy of Management, Anaheim, California.
Perey, R., Dunphy, D.C., Edwards, M. & Benn, S.H. 2007, 'Landcare and the livelihood of knowledge', Proceedings of the 21st ANZAM 2007 Conference: Managing Our Intellectual and Social Capital, Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, ANZAM, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-17.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This paper explores how communities generate effective ecological solutions using both implicit narrative construction and explicit processes of knowledge creation and knowledge application. We argue that the act of developing a narrative frames our understanding of the environment and governs our relationship with our environment. We identify micro-narratives extracted from the interviews with members of Australian Landcare organizations and link these micro-narratives to knowledge creation and dissemination processes. We conclude that social change toward sustainability comes about through the rewriting of the environmental story within which we situate ourselves.
Benn, S.H., Edwards, M., Perey, R. & Dunphy, D.C. 2007, 'Emergence, complexity and sustainability: A study of the "sub-political arena"', Academy of Management, Academy of Management, Academy of Management, Philadelphia, pp. 1-36.
Benn, S.H., Dunphy, D.C., Low, S. & Perey, R. 2006, 'Integrating sustainability into MBA programs: a multiple stakeholder approach', Management: Pragmatism, Philosophy, Priorities - Proceedings of the 20th ANZAM Conference, Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference, ANZAM, Yeppoon, Australia, pp. 1-8.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Florin, N, Madden, B, Sharpe, S, Benn, S, Agarwal, R, Perey, R & Giurco, D University of Technology Sydney 2015, Shifting Business Models for a Circular Economy: Metals Management for Multi-Product-Use Cycles, pp. 1-90, Sydney, Australia.
The overarching aim of this report is to explore how the Australian metals and minerals sector could embrace new business models and build on its strengths to harness new value in a global economy orientated more towards sustainable futures