Impacts from climate change on organizations: a conceptual foundation

Monika Winn*, Manfred Kirchgeorg, Andrew Griffiths, Martina K. Linnenluecke, Elmar Gunther

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)


Physical impacts from climate change already pose major challenges for organizations, and the trend is rising. Organization theorists, however, have barely begun to systematically consider the organizational impacts of more and increasingly intense storms, floods, droughts, fires, sea level rise or changing growing seasons as part of their domain of study. Eight organizationally relevant dimensions of climate impacts are identified: severity, temporal scale, spatial scale, predictability, mode, immediacy, state change potential and accelerating trend potential. Combined, their scale, scope and systemic uncertainty suggest future conditions of systemic hyperturbulence in organizational environments, defined here as 'massive discontinuous change' (MDC). To build a conceptual foundation for organizations to respond and adapt to MDC, the paper examines contributions from literatures on the management of sustainability, crisis, risk, resilience and adaptive organizational change. It highlights gaps for addressing both business challenges and opportunities from MDC, and suggests avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change impact
  • environmental uncertainty
  • hyperturbulence
  • organizational adaptation
  • organizational resilience
  • sustainable development


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