Creating responsible, sustainable communities and governance
How we structure and govern our societies, how decisions are made, how different stakeholders are engaged, how we support social inclusion, through to the regulations that are developed and imposed, are all crucial to creating the underpinnings of more sustainable societies that make decisions for long-term sustainability and reduce inequalities locally, nationally and globally.
This challenge covers the breadth of areas that help us understand and shape the societal structures that underpin a transition to more sustainable societies, from law, politics, international relations, to global development, our animal-human relationships, through to sustainable business and enterprise.
This challenge theme supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
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A selection of published work
Abstract: This paper seeks to clarify and refine the relationship between strategic and internal green marketing and firm competitiveness. Despite the significance of corporate environmental strategy to firms adopting a triple-bottom line performance evaluation, there is insufficient focus on strategic green marketing and its impact on a firm’s competitiveness. This study fills the gap by providing a comprehensive view of strategic green marketing and its impact on competitive advantage. Findings also reveal the moderating role of internal green marketing actions towards the development of a sustained competitive advantage. Specifically, the findings build on contemporary green marketing literature suggesting that a significant interplay between strategy and people exists which enhances the creation of competitive advantage. This in turn increases financial performance. Finally, this research uses an updated approach to build on current literature concerning the drivers and outcomes of strategic green marketing. This provides managers with nuanced insights about environmentally-driven competitive advantage.
Abstract: A new approach to sustainability has been proposed, the 'circular economy', as a pathway for companies - large or small - to engage with the challenges of sustainable business. This paper begins with an overview of the concept of the circular economy, before discussing some of the tensions and limitations of this approach, particularly the more overlooked social aspects of circularity. As a result, the paper suggests some alternatives as exemplars of more ethical and socially inclusive approaches to the circular economy.
Abstract: Despite the growing interest in examining the role of religious beliefs as a guide towards environmental conscious actions, there is still a lack of research informed by an analysis of divine messages. This deficiency includes the extent to which ethics for environmental responsibility are promoted within textual divine messages; types of environmental themes promoted within the text of divine messages; and implications of such religious environmental ethics for business practice. The present study attempts to fill this gap by conducting a thorough content analysis of environmental themes within the divine message of Muslims (the Qur’an) focusing on their related ethical aspects and business implications. The analysis has revealed 675 verses in 84 chapters throughout all 30 parts of the Qur’an, with environmental content relating to the core components of the natural world, i.e. human beings, water, air, land, plants, animals, and other natural resources. This environmental content and its related ethics are grounded on the belief that humans are vicegerents of God on the earth and their behaviours and actions are motivated by earthly and heavenly rewards. Implications of these findings for different sectors/businesses are also highlighted.
Access: Springer Link
Abstract: As green marketing becomes an essential tool for sustainable business strategy, companies are adopting green marketing practices to achieve better business performance. However, no research has yet operationalized all the organizational facets that are necessary to become a green marketing oriented company. To address this omission, following the literature in measurement theory, this investigation reports a series of 4 studies and develops a scale to capture the holistic approach of green marketing. This study introduces the construct of green marketing orientation, which comprises three dimensions: strategic green marketing orientation, tactical green marketing orientation and internal green marketing orientation. The scale shows internal consistency, reliability, construct validity and nomological validity. Directions for future research and managerial implications of the new construct are discussed.
Abstract: The environmental implications of corporate economic activities have led to growing demands for firms and their boards to adopt sustainable strategies and to disseminate more useful information about their activities and impacts on environment. This paper investigates the impact of board's corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy and orientation on the quantity and quality of environmental sustainability disclosure in UK listed firms. We find that effective board CSR strategy and CSR‐oriented directors have a positive and significant impact on the quality of environmental sustainability disclosure, but not on the quantity. Our findings also suggest that the existence of a CSR committee and issuance of a stand‐alone CSR report are positively and significantly related to environmental sustainability disclosure. When we distinguish between firms with high and low environmental risk, we find that the board CSR/sustainability practices that affect the quantity (quality) of environmental sustainability disclosure appear to be driven more by highly (lowly) environmentally sensitive firms. These results suggest that the board CSR/sustainability practices play an important role in ensuring a firm's legitimacy and accountability towards stakeholders. Our findings shed new light on this under‐researched area and could be of interest to companies, policy‐makers and other stakeholders
Access: Wiley Online Library
Abstract: The ultimate question of most business practitioners and policy makers now is how to reduce corporate negative environmental performance. One of the most effective ways is to help corporations to set the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of their sustainability performance and to report these KPIs to their stakeholders using corporate reporting cycle. To improve the environmental reporting quality, companies generally adopt and follow widely recognized reporting guidelines and third-party assurance standards, thus improving their environmental disclosure quality and trustworthiness in minds of their stakeholders. Over the last two decades a number of global initiatives (e.g. GRI, ISO, DEFRA, AA1000 APS, and ISAE 3000) have been developed for use in sustainability reporting. This chapter, therefore, aims to shed light on these credibility initiatives developed by governmental and non-governmental bodies to improve the quality of environmental reporting and to see the extent to which these credibility initiatives are different or similar.
Access: Keele University Library Shelf HC79.E5E7
Publisher IGI Global
Abstract: The article explores the ‘work of hope’ in relation to air pollution and health hazards in Bor, a polluted copper-processing town in Eastern Serbia. The aim of this paper is to show the mutual imbrication of hope and risk by delineating how hope for a stable personal and communal future was anchored in the polluting company and the toxic substances it produced, which, in various ways, provided a sense of possibility and opportunity.
I show how the work of hope demanded simultaneous weighing up, manoeuvring, accepting, and bargaining with risks that became an integral part of the work of hope in a social setting where the double bind of growth versus sustainability was deeply embedded. I argue that together, hope and risk were both framing devices for thinking about and living towards futures in a context of reindustrialisation and recent sudden economic flourishing in this post-socialist town.
Abstract: The Zambezi Teak forests of western Zambia have been exploited for their timber for over 80 years. The record of this exploitation and the subsequent collapse of the timber industry provide a unique insight into problems around land use change, governance and the interaction between ecology, society and forest management in south-central Africa. A wide-ranging study, this book is as much an examination of methodology for sustainability research as it is a review of land use change, forest management and rural livelihoods. It explores the problem of scale and how using explicit considerations of scale may contribute to an integration between the life sciences and the social sciences that a holistic assessment of sustainable development problems demands. Specific details of land use change in the region are examined over a 30 year period, including the first detailed mapping of changes to the Zambezi Teak forests since logging ceased in the early 1970s. Forest management practices and fire emerge as important drivers of land use change, and the book provides examples of how forest management and governance are important to sustainable development in this sparsely populated and inaccessible region.
Access: Keele University Library HD9767.Z2M8
From the publisher: Cambirdge Scholars Publishing
Abstract of edited book: Materials play a central role in society. Beyond the physical and chemical properties of materials, their cultural properties have often been overlooked in anthropological studies: finished products have been perceived as 'social' yet the materials which comprise them are considered 'raw' or natural'. The Social Life of Materials proposes a new perspective in this interdisciplinary field. Diverting attention from the consumption of objects, the book looks towards the properties of materials and how these exist through many transformations in a variety of cultural contexts.
Human societies have always worked with materials. However, the customs and traditions surrounding this differ according to the place, the time and the material itself. Whether or not the material is man-made, materials are defined by social intervention. Today, these constitute one of the most exciting areas of global scientific research and innovation, harboring the potential to act as key vehicles of change in the world. But this 'materials revolution' has complex social implications. Smart materials are designed to anticipate our actions and needs, yet we are increasingly unable to apprehend the composite materials which comprise new products.
Bringing together ethnographic studies of cultures from around the world, this collection explores the significance of materials by moving beyond questions of what may be created from them. Instead, the text argues that the materials themselves represent a shifting ground around which relationships, identities and powers are constantly formed and dissolved in the act of making and remaking.
Abstract: This paper explores one key aspect of marketisation in English universities, the quality-related research funding (QR) system, which central government in the United Kingdom uses to allocate funds to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), based on a system of reviewing and rating the ‘quality’ of research at different HEIs. Specifically, it focuses on the experiences of 30 members of academic staff from eight universities across England who were engaged in research and/or scholarly activity in the broad field of Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD), during the time leading up to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission period. Interviewees were asked to talk about their experiences of being a HESD researcher/scholar within the context of the QR system and their perceptions of the relationship between the QR system and interdisciplinary, sustainability, pedagogic and HESD research. Findings from the semi-structured interviews and resulting qualitative analysis, reveal a number of obstacles facing HESD researchers which are outlined and explored in the paper. Strategies and rationale for improving the quality, reputation and ultimately, the ‘REF-ability’ of HESD research are discussed, and highlight the complex interface between marketisation and sustainability in higher education.
Access: Keele Research Repository
Abstract:This paper explores the ideological and the practical relationship between neoliberalism and New Public Management (NPM) and the sustainable development agenda of western higher education. Using the United Kingdom and specifically English universities as an example, it investigates the contradictions and the synergies between neoliberal and NPM ideologies and the pursuit and practice of the sustainability agenda, focusing in particular on education for sustainable development (ESD) and ESD research. This paper reveals a range of challenges and opportunities in respect of advancing sustainability in higher education, within the prevailing neoliberal firstname.lastname@example.org. It illustrates using examples how neoliberal and managerialist control mechanisms, which govern institutional, departmental and individual academic, as well as student behaviour, are working conversely to both drive and limit the sustainability education agenda. The case is made for further exploration of how ‘nudging’ and ‘steering’ mechanisms within English HE might provide further leverage for ESD developments in the near future, and the implications of this for sustainability educators.
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Abstract: A major shift in private and public investment is needed to forge a transition to a circular economy. A recent surge of activity from policy makers, the financial industry, and other stakeholders suggests commitment and progress toward providing resources to facilitate this process. In this forum article, we provide a measured, and in some respects critical and corrective, assessment of these developments. We highlight the riskthat progress toward a circular economy will be curtailed by strategic decisions based on contestable understanding, fuzzy indicators, and inadequate information. Before major industry actors implement international investment standards, launch innovative financing vehicles, and ramp up investment, we call for more effective oversight to prevent the circular economy from becoming yet another compromised and ultimately ineffectual sustainability concept.
Access: Keele Research Repository
Professor Paul Dewick, PhD
Professor of Sustainability and Innovation
Keele Business School, Keele University
Abstract: This perspective calls for building greater understanding of overlapping and conflicting considerations between the sustainability principles that inform current conceptions of circular economy and degrowth. We contend that scholars and practitioners need to be pragmatic and to recognize evident ideological differences, but simultaneously to acknowledge beneficial similarities and complements. The common aim of both frameworks – to change business-as-usual and to enable human society to operate within ecological planetary boundaries – will likely engender opportunities to formulate new solutions. Management of the inherent tensions, such as the scale and scope of rebound effects, will continue to pose challenges. However, with thoughtful dialogue, commitment to respectful discourse, and more refined articulation we are confident that progress will be made. By building on synergies and seeking holistic strategies, the academic community, along with its transdisciplinary partners, can advance strong global sustainability efforts.
Access: Science Direct
Keele Business School, Keele University