The Fourth Wave: Business Management and Business Education in the Age of the Anthropocene

E. Lawler, S. Mohrman and J. O’Toole (eds) Corporate Stewardship: Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness, Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing): 228-246

Ross School of Business Paper No. 1196

32 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2013 Last revised: 4 Apr 2017

See all articles by Andrew John Hoffman

Andrew John Hoffman

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

John R. Ehrenfeld

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: April 1, 2015

Abstract

Sustainability has become mainstream in both management practice and management research. Firms incorporate sustainability strategies into their core mission. University administrators promote sustainability as central to their curricula. Scholars pursue sustainability as a bona fide field of research inquiry. Given this level of attention and action, the world should be on the road to a sustainable future. But it is not. Environmental and social problems continue to get worse. This paper presents a model for understanding the progression of punctuated social change within the market that has taken us to the present reality, moving through three waves from 1970 to the present. We then present an assessment of where we may be going in the fourth wave, a punctuated shift that is predicated on the notion that we are now living in the Anthropocene, a new geologic epoch in which human activities have a significant impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. We present six elements of change within management systems that are reflected in the Anthropocene: systems thinking, which leads to new forms of: partnerships, materials use and supply chains, domains of corporate activity, organizations, and the economic models and metrics that are used to measure them.

Keywords: Sustainability, Management Science, Punctuated Equilibrium

JEL Classification: M14, M1, M10, M19

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Andrew John and Ehrenfeld, John R., The Fourth Wave: Business Management and Business Education in the Age of the Anthropocene (April 1, 2015). E. Lawler, S. Mohrman and J. O’Toole (eds) Corporate Stewardship: Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness, Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing): 228-246; Ross School of Business Paper No. 1196. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2317423 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2317423

Andrew John Hoffman (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street, R4390
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734.763.9455 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.andrewhoffman.net/

John R. Ehrenfeld

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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