Developing organizational practices of ecological sustainability: A learning perspective



Fenwick T (2007) Developing organizational practices of ecological sustainability: A learning perspective. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 28 (7), pp. 632-645.

Purpose This article discusses issues and strategies of developing practices of ecological sustainability in organizations. Three questions guide the discussion: How are practices of social responsibility and ecological sustainability developed and maintained in organizations? What learning in particular is involved in developing practices of ecological sustainability in organizations? How might this learning be fostered by organizational leaders? Methodology/Approach The article draws from literatures in ecology, ecological learning and corporate social responsibility to describe the nature of ecological sustainability, intents and approaches of organizations developing it, and their challenges. Case examples drawn from studies of small business are examined to explore successful strategies of developing practices of ecological sustainability. These examples are analysed from a learning perspective. Findings Challenges that hinder adoption of ecological sustainability practice include low stakeholder understanding and support, low management focus and strategy, and insufficient cost-benefit analysis. Organizations confronted these challenges by emphasizing education and enabling conditions that fostered learning in everyday action (decentralization, diversity, connections, shared focus, constraints, and feedback.) Research implications The discussion shifts the emphasis from corporate social responsibility (CSR) – which has become a broad, contested area of multiple meanings – to ecological sustainability, and shifts the focus from measurement and reporting (prominent in CSR literature) to learning. Practical implications Strategies are suggested for organizational leaders to enable conditions for learning that support practices of ecological sustainability. Originality/value of paper With the learning perspective, and particularly with the focus on ecological learning models based in complexity science, the article demonstrates a unique link between learning approaches and practices of ecological sustainability.

ecological sustainability; organisational learning; corporate social responsibility; sustainability practices; Sustainable development; Ecological integrity; Environmental policy

Leadership and Organization Development Journal: Volume 28, Issue 7

Publication date31/12/2007
Publication date online2007

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Professor Tara Fenwick

Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education