Sub-theme 67: Critical Organizational Anthropocene Studies
Call for Papers
This sub-theme invites contributions that question the responses given by organizations to ecological, economic and social
challenges in the Anthropocene, such as global warming, ecosystems destruction, diminution of biodiversity, plastic littering
of the oceans, fresh water shortage, limits of planetary and social boundaries, etc. What are organizations doing, not doing,
pretending to do, missing, or envisaging? How is the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change translating into organizational
practices? Is anything happening in the boardrooms beyond non-committing statements of intention?
The purpose of this sub-theme is to bring together papers that critically question today’s conventions on (corporate) sustainability. How much of a difference do approaches such as Design for Disassembly, Cradle-to-Cradle certifications, ISO14001:2015, Product-Service-Systems, Environmental Management Systems, Environmental Accounting, Circular Business Models, or Partnerships for Sustainability (Blomsma & Brennan, 2017; Glasbergen et al., 2007; Korhonen et al., 2018; Moog et al., 2015; Stål & Corvellec, 2018) actually make? How much of these are mere delaying promises of a transition at some imprecise point in the future, and what actual effects and impacts have these sustainability approaches had?
Today, China (Su et al., 2013) and the European Union (European Commission, 2018) put their faith in developing a Circular Economy. But is any organization circular, especially if one considers humans and non-humans in addition to materials and energy flows (Murray et al., 2017)? Is this new approach radical enough to tackle the global challenges we face today (Unruh, 2018; Valenzuela & Böhm, 2017)? Or is this the latest attempt of a dying, linear system to rescue itself? How circular is the circular economy (Haas et al., 2015; Gregson et al., 2015; Gregson et al., 2017)?
We welcome contributions that address the organizational challenges in a wide range of sustainability and circular economy approaches that characterize the Anthropocene, including questions of power, process and labour; cultural aspects, including symbolic, political and historical dimensions of answers to these challenges or lack thereof; theoretical aspects, including how organizations define sustainability, circularity, resilience and risk of unsustainability; and its ethical aspects, including questions of justice, Otherness and responsibility.
Here is an indicative, arbitrary and in no way exhaustive list of possible topics:
People at work with sustainability: organizational, local, regional and global approaches
Between hope and distress: The analysis of subjectivity, emotions and/or affect to understand the commitment of organizational members towards sustainability ideals
Making organizational sense of ecological challenges, sustainability and resilience
Sustainability as the organization of embodied practices
Sustainability as the collective reorganization of responsibility
Ethnographies of organizational sustainability strategies, restorative and regenerative strategies, and the development of sustainable and circular business models
Sustainability and social innovation
Organizing materials, energy and waste for sustainability
Sustainability and systemic transformations of consumption
The management of externalities in management and governance
The discourse of circularity and/or sustainability as a form of ideology
Scales of sustainability: micro-, meso- or macro-loops?
The spatiality of sustainability practices
Regional differences in the strategies for sustainability, for example, between the “Global North” and the “Global South”, including de-globalization
Governance for sustainability: soft, strict, or otherwise (e.g., nudge), exploring, in particular, the role of incentives and legislation
Examining the discursive development of sustainability and resilience practices, from the United Nations or the European Union to individual organizations through lobbies such as Greenpeace or the World Economic Forum
From organizational sustainability to organizational resilience and beyond
Sustainability and resilience as master-metaphors: from utopias to excuses for doing nothing, through incantations and desperate efforts to rescue the world from capitalist obsession for resource exploitation
Post-sustainability, post-resilience and dystopia: what if nothing is done?
We welcome papers that open new spaces of reflection and understanding of the answers, or lack thereof, that organizations provide to the challenges of the Anthropocene, regardless of their theoretical sources of inspiration and methodological approach. Innovation in writing and composing style are also welcome. In addition to scholars working in management and organization studies, we welcome contributions from – inter alia – anthropology, sociology, geography, philosophy, politics, art history, communication, film, gender and cultural studies.
- Blomsma, F., & Brennan, G. (2017): “The emergence of circular economy: A new framing around prolonging resource productivity.” Journal of Industrial Ecology, 21 (3), 603–614.
- European Commission (2018): Circular Economy Strategy. Implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm
- Glasbergen, P., Biermann, F., & Mol, A.P. (eds.) (2007): Partnerships, Governance and Sustainable Development: Reflections on Theory and Practice. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Gregson, N., Crang, M.A., & Antonopoulos, C. (2017): “Holding together logistical worlds: Friction, seams and circulation in the emerging ‘global warehouse’.” Environment & Planning D: Society and Space, 35 (3), 381–398.
- Gregson, N., Crang, M., Fuller, S. & Holmes, H. (2015): “Interrogating the circular economy: The moral economy of resource recovery in the EU.” Economy and Society, 44 (2), 218–243.
- Haas, W., Krausmann, F., Wiedenhofer, D., & Heinz, M. (2015): “How circular is the global economy? An assessment of material flows, waste production, and recycling in the European Union and the world in 2005.” Journal of Industrial Ecology, 19 (5), 765–777.
- Korhonen, J., Nuur, C., Feldmann, A., & Birkie, S.E. (2018): “Circular economy as an essentially contested concept.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 175, 544–552.
- Moog, S., Spicer, A., & Böhm, S. (2015): “The politics of multi-stakeholder initiatives: The crisis of the Forest Stewardship Council.” Journal of Business Ethics, 128 (3), 469–493.
- Murray, A., Skene, K., & Haynes, K. (2017): “The circular economy: An interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and application in a global context.” Journal of Business Ethics, 140 (3), 369–380.
- Stål, H.I., & Corvellec, H. (2018). “A decoupling perspective on circular business model implementation: Illustrations from Swedish apparel.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 171 (Supplement C), 630–643.
- Su, B., Heshmati, A., Geng, Y., & Yu, X. (2013): “A review of the circular economy in China: Moving from rhetoric to implementation.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 42, 215–227.
- Valenzuela, F., & Böhm, S. (2017): “Against wasted politics: A critique of the circular economy.” ephemera, 17 (1), 23–60.
- Unruh, G. (2018): “Circular economy, 3D printing, and the biosphere rules.” California Management Review, 60 (3), 95–111.