Sustaining sustainability: determining the most effective organizational culture

Lenore K. Pennington, Elizabeth More

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Increasingly, organizations are expected to improve their ecological and environmental performance and to contribute to local and global communities. Adopting more sustainable practices which minimise harm requires organizations to examine and transform the underlying values and beliefs which drove their environmentally and socially unsustainable strategies and practices. Some research concludes that sustainable organizations cultivate a consistent, clearly articulated and shared organizational culture and have non-negotiable core values. However, little research has been undertaken to understand the contribution of culture to organizations’ commitment to sustainability, or the nature of that culture. The aim of this paper is to determine the research approach for identifying the cultural characteristics of sustainable organizations. A number of potential cultural dimensions have been drawn from the sustainability literature, and compared with those dimensions identified by established culture survey instruments. It is argued that while some of these survey instruments successfully determine the culture underpinning organizations’ effectiveness, and the strength of those cultures, they do not adequately address the specific proposed cultural dimensions of sustainable organizations. The implications for a comprehensive study of sustainable organizational culture are discussed.

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Organizational culture
Sustainability
Cultural dimensions
Environmental performance
Organization commitment
Organization culture
Core values

Keywords

  • culture surveys
  • organizational culture
  • organizational sustainability
  • values

Cite this

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title = "Sustaining sustainability: determining the most effective organizational culture",
abstract = "Increasingly, organizations are expected to improve their ecological and environmental performance and to contribute to local and global communities. Adopting more sustainable practices which minimise harm requires organizations to examine and transform the underlying values and beliefs which drove their environmentally and socially unsustainable strategies and practices. Some research concludes that sustainable organizations cultivate a consistent, clearly articulated and shared organizational culture and have non-negotiable core values. However, little research has been undertaken to understand the contribution of culture to organizations’ commitment to sustainability, or the nature of that culture. The aim of this paper is to determine the research approach for identifying the cultural characteristics of sustainable organizations. A number of potential cultural dimensions have been drawn from the sustainability literature, and compared with those dimensions identified by established culture survey instruments. It is argued that while some of these survey instruments successfully determine the culture underpinning organizations’ effectiveness, and the strength of those cultures, they do not adequately address the specific proposed cultural dimensions of sustainable organizations. The implications for a comprehensive study of sustainable organizational culture are discussed.",
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Sustaining sustainability : determining the most effective organizational culture. / Pennington, Lenore K.; More, Elizabeth.

In: The 2011 Barcelona European Academic Conference : program & proceedings, 2011, p. 479-492.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperResearchpeer-review

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AB - Increasingly, organizations are expected to improve their ecological and environmental performance and to contribute to local and global communities. Adopting more sustainable practices which minimise harm requires organizations to examine and transform the underlying values and beliefs which drove their environmentally and socially unsustainable strategies and practices. Some research concludes that sustainable organizations cultivate a consistent, clearly articulated and shared organizational culture and have non-negotiable core values. However, little research has been undertaken to understand the contribution of culture to organizations’ commitment to sustainability, or the nature of that culture. The aim of this paper is to determine the research approach for identifying the cultural characteristics of sustainable organizations. A number of potential cultural dimensions have been drawn from the sustainability literature, and compared with those dimensions identified by established culture survey instruments. It is argued that while some of these survey instruments successfully determine the culture underpinning organizations’ effectiveness, and the strength of those cultures, they do not adequately address the specific proposed cultural dimensions of sustainable organizations. The implications for a comprehensive study of sustainable organizational culture are discussed.

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