Exploring the Environment: Grasping for something that isn’t there?
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This paper explores understandings of the environment. It explores what the environment is and isn’t. The ultimate claim of this paper is that the environment is not an objective thing as language may trick us to believe and strategy textbooks would imply. Rather the environment is a field of entanglement which is enacted and the role of the business person is to make sense of the entanglement (Ingold, 2011; Smircich & Stubbart, 1985). This understanding is congruent with sustainable development that argues any consideration of the environment as being a separate thing is naive (WCED, 1987, p. xi). Thus the claim of this paper is that, if sustainable outcomes are desired then the key for individuals and corporate strategists in particular is to stop talking about the environment, trying to analyse it and or save it. Rather it is time to discuss strategy and organisations as meaning makers where the meaning is human centric and by extension humane for all of the humans on earth. To realise the above conclusion this paper will draw on four areas. These are (1) a discussion of how language can reify that which is a process, (2) a discussion of a potential model to understand humans not as things but as processes; (3) a review of definitions of the environment drawn from best selling strategy textbooks; and (4) some interview evidence on understandings of the environment from individuals who lead environmentally orientated organisations. These four areas could be considered a relative smorgasbord of ideas. However after moving through them the paper will try and synthesise the strands and summarise the implications. The key implication being that the environment does not exist as a separate thing and attempts to save it are naive. Thus if there is a desire to be sustainable and corporate strategists are key the viable position is to put humanity at the centre of considerations and in so doing rewrite strategy textbooks and theories therein. Prior to exploring the four areas, as a base to this paper, a vignette and a brief discussion of sustainable development and organisations are offered.
Asia-Pacific Work In Progress Research Paper Series
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Organisation and Management Theory