Make Our Planet Great Again: A Systems Perspective of Corporate Sustainability Defended on Friday, 12 October 2018

This dissertation aims to advance our understanding of sustainability management by leveraging a systems thinking lens.  In Chapter 1, I introduce corporate sustainability research to position the contribution of this dissertation.  Chapter 2 reviewed the literature at the intersection of sustainability management and a systems perspective.  We identified and described 5 core theoretical concepts (interconnections, feedbacks, adaptive capacity, emergence and self-organization) and 9 research themes (behavioral change, leadership, innovation, industrial ecology, social-ecological systems, transitions management, paradigm shifts and sustainability education).  Chapter 3 argued that the existing literature on resilience in management journals focuses primarily on the resilience at the organizational level, and develops a cross-scale perspective.  Chapter 4 proposed that that organizational studies of risk can benefit from natural science insights on systemic ecosystem risks at the planetary scale and develops a three-phase framework for understanding systemic ecosystem risks.  Chapter 5 draws on a qualitative ethnography to understand how social-ecological sustainability frameworks are utilized as a systemic basis for collective strategic planning and communication in a global business association. Chapter 6 concludes the dissertation by providing a synthesis of the chapters and managerial implications.               


Corporate sustainability, systems thinking, planetary risks, resilience

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