A Management Science Perspective On Sustainable Development And Global Governance
Sustainable development is a vague and imprecise doctrine. As a set of values, it does not offer operationalized or actionable principles, and yet it has still managed to deeply transform the way companies do business. The idea of sustainable development has created new instruments, new rules, new actors inside firms. It has also challenged firms’ individual and collective strategies themselves. This idea has forced companies to take into account multiple stakeholders, from local communities, to end-users and sometimes “earth” itself. Stakeholder theory now provides a credible alternative to shareholder wealth maximization. How could this change happen? This seminar will build on the concept of “performativity”, i.e. the capacity of a theory or an idea to create the reality it describes, in order to understand the dynamics of change in organizations towards more sustainability. We will focus on one specific device that helps define and enact sustainable development into organizations: meta-organizations, organizations which members are themselves organizations. Based on an empirical survey of meta-organizations in the oil and gas industry, we show how this collective action device makes sustainable development performative by acting as: 1) an inter-organizational space that facilitates dialogue and negotiation among organizations; 2) a strategic device, that allows members to protect common resources and to legitimize firms’ activities; 3) a normalizing device, to build collective capacities and diffuse self-regulation instruments, thus participating to a distributed governance of business conduct.
Héloïse Berkowitz has a Phd in management science from i3-CRG, Ecole Polytechnique. She graduated from HEC Paris, la Sorbonne and CEMS and was a visiting scholar at Columbia School of International Public Affairs and Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. Her research deals with sustainable collective strategies and self-regulation devices in the energy sector. She is also interested in topics such as the performativity of strategy and social sciences, meta-organizations, sectoral governance, and specific interdisciplinary issues such as human rights and oceans' management.
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