Unleashing Sustainability Transformations Through Robust Action

Journal of Cleaner Production, Forthcoming

46 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2015

See all articles by Dror Etzion

Dror Etzion

McGill University

Joel Gehman

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Fabrizio Ferraro

IESE Business School

Miron Avidan

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management

Date Written: June 18, 2015

Abstract

Shifting to dramatically more sustainable systems is an unconventional or wicked problem, encompassing multiple actors, disciplines, and values. Yet to date, sustainability initiatives have been tackled primarily by means of conventional managerial approaches. We contend that these approaches are ill-suited for achieving sustainability transformations. We propose an alternative approach founded upon the sociological concept of robust action. In robust action, leaders embrace ambiguity (rather than striving for clarity), focus on short-term accomplishments (rather than long-term goals), and are satisfied with oblique movement (rather than linear progress). We elaborate on three robust strategies — participatory architecture, multivocal inscription and distributed experimentation — and investigate their effectiveness in three sustainability related contexts: wind power, sustainability reporting and microcredit. We conclude by discussing the applicability of robust action to other contexts where systemic sustainability transformation is desired, and the complementarities between robust action and other forms of leadership towards sustainability.

Keywords: sustainability, robust action, wind power, sustainability reporting, microcredit

JEL Classification: D7, D8, I18, I3, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Etzion, Dror and Gehman, Joel and Ferraro, Fabrizio and Avidan, Miron, Unleashing Sustainability Transformations Through Robust Action (June 18, 2015). Journal of Cleaner Production, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2620334

Dror Etzion

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Joel Gehman (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
(780) 248-5855 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.joelgehman.com

Fabrizio Ferraro

IESE Business School ( email )

AV.da Pearson 21
Barcelona, 08034
Spain
932534200 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://blog.iese.edu/ferraro/

Miron Avidan

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal, Quebec H3A1G5 H3A 2M1
Canada

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