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Inertia and change related to sustainability – An institutional approach

Stål, Herman I.
Journal of cleaner production 2015 v.99 pp. 354-365
analytical methods, case studies, greenhouse gases, industry
Despite increased awareness of environmental crisis and social inequity the world is becoming more, not less, unsustainable. Obviously there is great inertia, a disinclination to enact change, in for instance environmentally detrimental practices. While there is much in the literature to explain inertia at the individual, organizational and societal level, there is a gap concerning approaches that focus upon the industrial level. This paper addresses this gap by developing an analytical approach based upon institutional theory brought together with the ontological principles of strong sustainability. Two interrelated case studies, concerning greenhouse gas reduction in the Swedish agrifield, are used to develop the approach. The empirical results show that greenhouse gas reduction is used in support for convergent changes within the industry, for instance to motivate increased efficiency and yields. Hence, the paper contributes to the sustainable development-literature by providing an analytical approach that can be utilized to increase the understanding of change processes at the industrial level. This approach is then discussed and further developed to accommodate for the case results.