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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Implementing Sustainability: The Factors That Drive It and the Perspectives That Thrive in It
by Stoughton, Anne Marie, Ph.D., Benedictine University, 2011, 283; 3488561
Abstract (Summary)

Numerous companies are accepting sustainability as an organizational imperative. There is, however, little convergence on how organizations become sustainable. Some researchers suggest that a paradigm shift is necessary to incorporate more sustainable ways of thinking, while others advocate that sustainability requires only moderate behavioral changes. Several researchers suggest that sustainability develops most effectively when a singular view of sustainability is applied throughout the company; others contend that differentiated views of sustainability emerge within the various subcultures of an organization. Researchers also disagree about whether sustainability is best implemented from the top-down, bottom-up, or middle of an organization.

This research attempts to provide further insight into how sustainability emerges within organizations. Specifically, employees from three companies with exemplary sustainability standings were asked to share their stories about the sustainability projects they had contributed to. The results of these stories, in conjunction with company documents, were used to address the question, How are sustainability initiatives developed and implemented within organizations?

The results of this study revealed that different viewpoints toward sustainability existed at different levels within each of the studied organizations. At the organizational level, sustainability was defined and an integrated view of sustainability was driven throughout the company. While this view of sustainability dominated the companies, differentiated viewpoints of sustainability existed at the organizations' functional levels based on the type of work performed and the sustainability experiences of the employees. At the individual level, differences in education, culture, and other factors influenced facility, supplier, and employee perspectives of sustainability and their willingness to accept it. Efforts were made at the functional level to translate the organization's perspective of sustainability into measurements and programs targeted at the individual actors, efforts that further encouraged their compliance.

Sustainability implementation, therefore, is complex. Varied perspectives toward sustainability emerge at different levels of an organization. This research provides insight into how relationships and actions based on these perspectives impacted the implementation of sustainability within the studied organizations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ludema, Jim
School: Benedictine University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Sustainability, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Organizational culture, Sustainability initiatives
Publication Number: 3488561
ISBN: 978-1-267-05138-7
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