Sub-theme 25: Climate Crisis and Organization Theory: Enabling a Positive Climate Legacy --> HYBRID!

Convenors:
Arijit Paul
University of Graz, Austria
Bettina Wittneben
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Andrew C. Wicks
University of Virginia, USA

Call for Papers


Planetary and human wellbeing are intrinsically entwined (O’Neill, Fanning, Lamb, & Steinberger, 2018). A good life for all can’t be imagined without a good life for the planet we inhabit. Unfortunately, overexploitation of natural resources and unsustainable production and consumption practices have come to define the human-nature relationship that is increasingly characterized by conflicts and crises. Worse, the scope and intensity of these crises are growing at an alarming rate (IPBES, 2020). Specifically, the surge of anthropogenic climate change is amplifying all other sustainability challenges, including biodiversity loss, loss of ecosystem services, and rapid urbanization, among others (Pecl et al., 2017; Rosenzweig et al., 2011; Yohe et al., 2007). As industrial and economic activities are the prime driver of anthropogenic GHG emissions, business organizations have become a central focus of the climate crisis debate. In this sub-theme, we want to use the lens of positive organizational scholarship (POS) to explore the question of how to enable a positive climate-legacy of business action on climate change?
 
Nilsson (2014) argued that to fully comprehend its emancipatory potential, POS needs to actively engage in understanding the normative social purpose of the institutional contexts within which the organizational actors operate. Thus, we aim to define the positive climate legacy using the normative lens of climate ethics. At the same time, as Freeman and colleagues (2010) have argued, focusing on the normative alone risks committing the ‘separation fallacy.’ The separation fallacy occurs when one believes ‘that sentences such as “x is a business decision” have no ethical content or any implicit ethical point of view’ that ‘the discourse of business and the discourse of ethics can be separated’ (Freeman, 1994: 412). The ‘separation fallacy’ may get further heightened for complex ethical issues like climate crisis due to management scholars’ reluctance to engage in debates that concern defining what is ethical (Ghoshal, 2005; Tenbrunsel & Smith-Crowe, 2008).
 
This sub-theme is a call for management scholars to overcome the ‘separation fallacy’ by bridging the normative with the descriptive. We are not only interested in clarifying what the ethically desirable business actions are that can potentially leave a positive climate legacy but also in exploring the barriers and enablers for such desirable actions. Given climate change is essentially a multilevel phenomenon, we invite contributions from a wide range of disciplines across the micro and macro fields of organizational research. An indicative list of the topics of interest is provided below.

The implication of intra-generational and intergenerational justice considerations:

  • The role of corporations on the ethical tension between adaptation and mitigation of climate change;

  • The role of degrowth in the context of the climate crisis in re-defining the business and society relationship;

  • The climate crisis and the corporate interactions with human and planetary health;

  • The role of business at the intersection of climate and energy justice;

  • Understanding the emergence and influence of social norms for responsible climate action by businesses on the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies of firms.


Responsible innovation and climate change: Theorizing ethical considerations surrounding current ‘net zero emissions’ business solutions, such as carbon offsetting, carbon capture, usage and storage, geoengineering, green hydrogen, fossil fuel extraction practices, and sustainable investing.
 
Political economy perspective:

  • The role of political contestation, social movements, markets, and regulations both in terms of potential and limitation for corporate action on climate change;

  • Analysis of the business response to climate justice concerns, practices, and demands of popular movements, such as Indigenous groups, Fridays for Future, XR, Black Lives Matter, and the Sunrise Movement.


Behavioral ethics:

  • The effect of the interplay of the roles of emotion, intuition, and reason as well as the role of the organizational contexts such as, inter alia, that of ethical climate/culture, firm size, age of the firm, and corporate governance structure on the ethical decision-making for climate change.

  • Ethical leadership and climate change


Micro-foundation of decision-making: Exploring the roles of individual psychological antecedents such as values, beliefs, norms, ethical and political ideologies, and demographic factors such as age, gender, levels of education, nationalities on ethical decision-making with respect to climate change, and their implications for leadership theories, ethics position theory (EPT), top management team (TMT) theories and upper echelon theories
 
We welcome contributions with clear theoretical implications from a wide range of methodological approaches, including but not limited to conceptual and normative articles, case studies, archival research, statistical analysis, ethnographic studies across diverse sectors, in the supply chain and different geographical regions.
 


References


  • Freeman, R.E. (1994): “The politics of stakeholder theory: Some future directions.” Business Ethics Quarterly, 4 (4), 409-421.
  • Freeman, R.E., Harrison, J.S., Wicks, A.C., Parmar, B.L., & De Colle, S. (2010): Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art. Cmabridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ghoshal, S. (2005): “Bad management theories are destroying good management practices.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4 (1), 75–91.
  • IPBES (2020): IPBES Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics. Workshop Report. Bonn: IPBES Secretariat.
  • O’Neill, D.W., Fanning, A.L., Lamb, W.F., & Steinberger, J.K. (2018): “A good life for all within planetary boundaries.” Nature Sustainability, 1 (2), 88–95.
  • Nilsson, W. (2014): “Positive institutional work: Exploring institutional work through the lens of positive organizational scholarship.” Academy of Management Review, 40 (3), 370–398.
  • Pecl, G.T., Araújo, M.B., Bell, J.D., Blanchard, J., Bonebrake, T.C., Chen, I.C., et al. (2017): “Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human wellbeing.” Science, 355 (6332), https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aai9214.
  • Rosenzweig, C., Solecki, W.D., Hammer, S.A., & Mehrotra, S. (eds.) (2011): Climate Change and Cities. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tenbrunsel, A., & Smith‐Crowe, K. (2008): “Ethical decision making: Where we’ve been and where we’re going.” The Academy of Management Annals, 2 (1), 545–607.
  • Yohe, G.W., Lasco, R.D., Ahmad, Q.K., Arnell, N.W. Cohen, S.J., Hope, C., Janetos, A.C., & Perez, R.T. (2007): “Perspectives on climate change and sustainability.” M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden & C.E. Hanson (eds.): Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 811–841.
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Arijit Paul is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Systems Sciences Innovation and Sustainability Research at the University of Graz, Austria. He has an interdisciplinary research focus and is interested in combining insights from ethics, psychology, sociology, and organizational theories for developing an integrated understanding of the relationship between business and climate change. Arijit is a member of the Governing Council of Future Earth, representing early career researchers.
Bettina Wittneben is an Associate Scholar in Strategic Management at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK. Here, she conducts research and teaching at the intersection of strategic management and the climate crisis. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, and practitioner journals such as ‘Energy Policy’. Bettina is also Manager in Sustainability at AFRY Management Consulting, a global engineering, design and advisory firm with the aim of accelerating the energy transition.
Andrew C. Wicks is the Ruffin Professor of Business Administration at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA. He is an influential scholar of business ethics, known internationally for his research in business ethics and stakeholder theory, and he also examines topics such as trust, health care ethics, total quality management, and stakeholder theory as it relates to morality and spirituality. Co-author of five books, Andrew has published extensively in journals in business ethics, management, health care , and the humanities, and served as guest editor of ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’ and ‘Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion’.