Organizational approaches to greening technocentrism and beyond

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Umeå Universitet

Sammanfattning: How and why do organizations approach greening? How can we conceptualize approaches and how can we encourage reflexive dialogues on them? These are the main questions addressed in this qualitative study on organizational greening. The study sets off by discussing matters of research philosophy, arguing that our trust in science ought to be revised and that a more postmodern and constructionist philosophy might be a way to go. This is then followed by a theoretical review, showing that organizational studies have a history in environmental issues, but that it is basically technocentric in orientation. A more reflexive organizational approach is suggested. The empirical part of the study is based on qualitative research of five case studies, representing a mix of organizations situated in Sweden, all with an explicit ambition to approach greening. The analyses target the organizations' approaches from practice to assumptions, pointing at the commonalities as well as the tensions. Basically, greening was an issue for all studied organizations, but an increasing pressure to market-orient their operations in line with the business rhetoric dominated their identity construction. The environment was included if there were opportunities of win-win situations between environment and economy in sight. Once embarked upon, the organizations tended to focus on technocratic practices, developing or implementing management systems, product development indexes, life-cycle methodologies and other tools. On a more philosophical level, in the study referred to as the worldview level, the approaches were predominandy characterized by a representative epistemology and a dualistic ontology, that is, they were clearly anthropocentric. With a base in these findings, an alternative approach is discussed as a way out, or as a way of constructing a reflexive dialogue on greening. This is partly based on the tensions within and between the cases, which encouraged reflections on how greening was approached. In the alternative, organizations are seen as actors on a symbolic agora where transparency, participation and self-reflexivity are keys to organizational legitimacy. This view frames organizations in the dominating approach as agoraphobic producers of materialistically dependent satisfiers. The alternative also targets the limits of a preference and materialistically oriented view on die satisfaction of human needs. Instead, it is argued that environmental and cultural sensitivity should be acknowledged as natural parts of organizational greening. This, however, demands more room for reflexive dialogues encouraging ontological awareness and a respect for more ecocentric views.

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