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Leading Sustainable ChangeAn Organizational Perspective$
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Rebecca Henderson, Ranjay Gulati, and Michael Tushman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704072

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704072.001.0001

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Stumbling Towards Sustainability

Stumbling Towards Sustainability

Why Organizational Learning and Radical Innovation are Necessary to Build a More Sustainable World—But Not Sufficient

Chapter:
(p.50) (p.51) 3 Stumbling Towards Sustainability
Source:
Leading Sustainable Change
Author(s):

John Sterman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704072.003.0003

Our civilization is unsustainable and it is getting worse fast. Meeting the legitimate aspirations of billions to rise out of poverty while reducing our ecological footprint to sustainable levels is the defining issue of the age. Organizational change and transformation are urgently needed throughout society. But how can such change be achieved? Here the chapter offers a dynamic systems perspective to raise questions about the processes of change required, at multiple scales. Within organizations, process improvement initiatives directed at cost, quality, and productivity commonly fail. Why do so many such programs fail and what can be done to improve them? When they succeed, the cost reductions often lead to higher consumption (rebound effects); how can these be avoided? At the industry level, many attempts to introduce radical new technologies “sizzle and fizzle.” Why, and what can be done to create markets for radical new technologies that are sustainable ecologically and economically? Where are the leverage points to implement successful change programs, transform existing organizations, industries, and personal values, and address overconsumption?

Keywords:   ecological footprint, ecological improvement, organizational change, overconsumption, process improvement, rebound effects, system dynamics

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