Climate Change Project

Project Summary

This Australian Research Council funded project focuses on the business response to climate change, exploring the interrelationship between the discourse and practice of organisational change. The broad aim of the project is to provide a detailed analysis of how business organisations and managers are interpreting and responding to climate change.

This study takes place against an interesting backdrop. Climate change has emerged as the major social, political and economic challenge of the 21st century. While the response of national governments to the threat of climate change has occupied signifcant public attention, the reaction of business to this issue has received little research consideration. This is surprising, given the dramatic impact of climate change on business operations, and the expectation that business will play a leading role in the fght against global warming. Critically, the capacity of business to respond to climate change is dependent on the ability to effect organisational change involving a reconsideration of established practices and thinking, and the adoption of new strategies, systems and processes.

In light of the complexities highlighted above, the research team argues that existing theories of organisational change appear ill-equipped to conceptualise the role of broader social discourses, such as the discourse of climate change, in shaping organisational change. Indeed, this limitation highlights the need for a new approach to the study of organisational change that stresses the interaction of discourse and practice at multiple levels over time.

Researchers

The research team for the climate change project comprises four members of the ODSC Group at Sydney, including Professors Christopher Wright, David Grant, and Dr Daniel Nyberg, Maurizio Floris, as well as Professor Richard Dunford (University of Newcastle).

Participating Organisations

To date the team has conducted a number of detailed organisational case-studies of changed business practices related to environmental sustainability and climate change. Current participants in the study have included News Limited, Westpac Banking Corporation, AGL, IAG and GE. These case-studies have focused on a range of corporate change initiatives including: changed business strategies; new technologies; efficiency improvements; carbon emissions measurement and reporting; waste reduction; green products; green marketing, changes in supply chains; green culture change; public advocacy, and networking and alliances. By exploring these initiatives in a range of industry contexts, the research team has sought to capture the diversity of business responses, and the contingent contextual factors that influence effective organisational change in this area.

Publications

Journal Articles

Wright, C. and Nyberg, D. (2012) 'Working with Passion: Emotionology, Corporate Environmentalism and Climate Change', Human Relations 65(12): 1561-87.

Wright, C., Nyberg, D. and Grant, D. (2012) '"Hippies on the Third Floor": Climate Change, Narrative Identity and the Micro-Politics of Corporate Environmentalism', Organization Studies 33(11): 1451-75.

Nyberg, D. and Wright, C. (2012) 'Justifying Business Responses to Climate Change: Discursive Strategies of Similarity and Difference', Environment and Planning A 44(8): 1819-35.

Conference Papers

Nyberg D. and Wright C. (2012) 'Corporate Sustainability and the Corruption of the Environment as a Social Good, 10th International Conference on Organizational Discourse - "Processes, Practices and Performance", Amsterdam, Netherlands, 20 July.

Nyberg, D., Wright, C., Grant, D., Dunford, R. & Floris, M. (2012) 'Managing the risks of climate change: Justifying the past, marketing the present and colonizing the future.' Paper presented to the 28th EGOS Colloquium, Helsinki, Finland, 6-9 July.