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A cultural development strategy for a firm wishing to maximise the sustainability behaviour of its workforce

Jones, David Raymond (1998) A cultural development strategy for a firm wishing to maximise the sustainability behaviour of its workforce. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

This research builds a hypothesis and a set of cultural principles upon which a firm
needs to act if it wishes to move towards sustainability. It is assumed in this research
that a company wishing to move towards sustainability needs to proactively address
its long-term, environmental, social and financial responsibilities. As these
responsibilities are continually changing over time, this research assumes that a firm
needs to build a capability to respond. In order to achieve this a firm needs to
maximise the behaviour and commitment towards sustainability of all its workers.

The cultural principles form the basis for choosing the most appropriate organisational
structure, management style, reward systems etc. to move a firm towards
sustainability.

The research initially develops these principles by identifying several relevant topic
areas through a set of expert four-day workshops. It then explores empirical case
study research findings from three U.K. best-practice firms; The Body Shop
International plc, Traidcraft plc and Suma Wholefoods. These firms are defined as
best-practice as they each are leading innovators within either the environmental
protection or social equity fields. They each also share a top-management
commitment to moving towards sustainability.
The emergent hypothesis argues against using the 'unitarist' (strong) cultural, topdown
approach which represents the most popular strategy of the 1980's culture
writers. The three cultural principles which typify this unitarist approach are identified
as leadership (values and financial), mission support and worker accountability.
Similarly, the hypothesis also argues against the 'pluralist' cultural, bottom-up
approach. The three cultural principles which typify this pluralist apporach are
identified as participation, personal support and management accountability. Instead,
the research hypothesis argues that a business should adopt an optimal combination of
both unitarist and pluralist principles. This optimal combination is contingent, at any
point in time, upon the firm's historical cultural approach, the extent of diversity of
values and opinions amongst workers and the extent of top management commitment
towards sustainability.

In order to help a firm move towards its optimal unitarist-pluralist mix, two further
overarching principles are also identified; worker involvement and mutual trust. It is
proposed that these principles will be realised fully only when a firm's optimal mix is
developed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Contributors:
ContributionNameEmail
Thesis advisorWelford, RichardUNSPECIFIED
Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID uk.bl.ethos.285840
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sustainable development, Unitarism, Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Schools: The Business School
Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2009 15:24
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 22:44
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/4836

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