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Type: Thesis
Title: A climate for change: an exploration towards Integral Action Loops to apply our knowledge for sustainability success.
Author: Divecha, Simon
Issue Date: 2014
School/Discipline: Business School
Abstract: A Climate for Change addresses an integration gap - how do we make sense of sustainability and the multiple perspectives on it? It does this through four major steps. First, I introduce meta-theory and a particular type of it, integral theory. Steps two and three draw on action logics then common pool resource research to examine case studies. Finally, these areas are analysed together - the results from the case study correlations, and the meta-theory analysis, are structured through integral theory with loop learning. At the heart of the investigation are questions of appropriate interventions and theory. In the face of multiple sustainability perspectives and practices, how can we take effective action to meet the demands we face? An lntegral Action Loop framework is proposed as a mechanism to understand important catalysts, fulcra that can be focused on. The scales of consideration associated with sustainability are, necessarily, expansive – from politics, cultures and across institutions, to governance and multinational corporations, global, local and individual considerations. That is, the range of theory is vast. At the same time, I would argue we need practical results to assist us with sustainability transformations. Consequently, to manage the scale, this thesis looks at sustainability through a multinational company case study and climate change framework. However, it does so using a range of approaches - meta-theory alongside correlating theory with the cases – to understand both particular theories and the relevance of each for another. Given the scope outlined, there is an implicit reach towards integrated approaches and a search for joined up consideration, as opposed to a list of factors, to manage through the complexity. In this light, it may be unsurprising to some that I encountered integral theory at an early stage of the work. lntegral theory has guided much of this inquiry and it is tested for its usefulness. It is explicitly applied, alongside a more general meta-theory methodology, to understand the paradoxes and incongruities through which we approach sustainability. Energy efficiency, and the gap between profitable opportunities and actual implementation, is used to illustrate the usefulness of these theoretical approaches. This integral/meta-theory examination highlights significant structures. In particular, developmental hierarchies - as represented by action logics - are prominent. Action logics is a constructive developmental theory modelling how people make sense of the world around them. I find that these discrete stage structures are strong sustainability categories. I develop theory that correlates distinct stages to how case study senior leaders describe sustainability. Similarly, organisations can be examined for collective action logics. The company leaders describe aspirations for enhanced sustainability success in a manner mirroring later organisational stages. Consequently, by being mindful of action logics we may be able to actively design sustainability interventions with a greater likelihood of success. Human societies have, however, successfully addressed some environmental dilemmas for millennia. Research into these outcomes is relevant with respect to today's sustainability issues and organisational actions. An examination, of data in this thesis, uncovers strong parallels between principles correlated with historic success and the case study multinationals. These parallels, the meta-analysis of sustainability and energy efficiency, and the action logics correlations, demand integration. For institutions, there are multiple theoretical lenses describing sustainability transformation. We clearly need effective frameworks to manage between different approaches and, importantly, apply the interplay of many factors to circumstances at the various scales we are operating within. For example, underpinning factors, such as action logics, are important considerations but are they key to a particular intervention? I consequently propose Integral Action Loops, based on the theoretical and practical research from the integral, meta-theory, and case studies correlations in this research, as a framework that may be used to bridge gaps revealed through the course of the thesis. lntegral action loops examine subjective and objective facets and theories of change. The structure considers wide ranging individual and collective influences against the depth of change - first, second and third order. These orders correspond to directly addressing problems, through to a more fundamental shift in physical structuring and subjective meaning making systems such that the whole phenomenon is reconceptualised. That is, to facilitate change we need capacity to work across the depth of theory, as well as surface circumstances. lntegral action loops may deliver clarity on interrelationships, and the influences of multiple factors on each other, to assist understanding and practice for sustainability success.
Advisor: Wells, Samuel
Riedy, Chris
Spoehr, John Douglas
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Business School, 2014
Keywords: sustainability; climate change; integral theory; meta-theory; Common Pool Resources; sustainability dilemma; sustainability paradox; energy efficiency; energy efficiency paradox
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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