DTA

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Tesi etd-12112020-111635

Type of thesis
Dottorato
Author
BIANCHI, GUIA
URN
etd-12112020-111635
Title
Unboxing the complex world of corporate environmental sustainability. Enablers and barriers that foster the internalization of life cycle management.
Scientific disciplinary sector
SECS-P/08
Course
SCIENZE MEDICHE - MANAGEMENT
Committee
relatore Prof. TESTA, FRANCESCO
Membro PICCI, ELISABETTA
Presidente Prof. TURCHETTI, GIUSEPPE
Relatore Prof. BATTAGLIA, MASSIMO
Membro Dott.ssa MARULLO, CRISTINA
Keywords
  • environmental sustainability
  • life cycle
  • life cycle management
  • organizational change
  • qualitative research
  • systems thinking
Exam session start date
15/02/2021;
Availability
parziale
Abstract
Traditionally, firms have addresses calls for improving their environmental performance by greening their internal operations. While such an approach may be beneficial in the short term, stakeholders now require firms to acknowledge that they do not operate in a vacuum and need to assess their environmental performance beyond organizational boundaries, where environmental impacts really matter. Life cycle management is recognized as a holistic approach to environmental management, as it strategically takes into consideration all phases and actors involved along a product life cycle, from accessing raw materials, to production and assembly, distribution, and its dismissal. As such, life cycle management is a managerial framework which helps operationalize environmental sustainability through a number of different tools and practices. Experts also refer to it as Sustainability Management. <br><br>This being said, firms may have troubles integrating environmental practices into their existing structures based on a traditional business logic that prioritizes profits over the planet. Furthermore, the complex organizational fields and dynamic contexts in which firms operate, as well as organizational barriers, make it more challenging to embed a life cycle environmental sustainability approach inside firms which are tied to their existing structures and practices.<br><br>In light of this, this research aims to explore what factors facilitate (or hinder) firms to internalize a holistic approach to environmental sustainability, through life cycle management, in their strategy and operations. This research is divided in three main parts. <br><br>The first study investigates how firms internalize demands for ES, by looking at factors that promote (hinder) a substantive implementation of ES among organizational actors who do the real work, i.e. managers. A qualitative multiple case study was undertaken to fulfil the research objective, choosing five frontrunner companies located in Italy and Norway. Data was collected by means of desk research, interviews, and site visits. The findings contribute to the literature on the internalization of environmental sustainability and life cycle management by showing, from a dynamic perspective, the enablers of organizational learning required for the implementation of a successful strategy in this area. A new organizational learning framework for environmental sustainability is also put forward in line with the concept of lifecycle management. <br><br>The second study consists of a longitudinal multiple case study on ten small and medium Italian manufacturing firms involved in a European-funded project, running over a period of three years. The main aim is to explore how internal factors can favour the embeddedness of life cycle management vis-à-vis different cognitive frames. By identifying three cognitive frames and two learning mindsets, this study makes two important contributions. First, cognitive frames are not static in time, but can change to give more importance to a lifecycle environmental sustainability. Second, the type of learning mindsets that managers in small and medium enterprises share can trigger changes in organizational cognitive frames.<br><br>The third and final study explores to what extent sensing, seizing, and reconfiguring capabilities and an integrative lens to corporate sustainability favour the embeddedness of life cycle management in firms. We performed a multinomial logistic regression using a sample of 187 medium and large enterprises. Our findings show that sensing and seizing capabilities, and an integrative approach to sustainability help embed life cycle management in presence of complex environment. Among dynamic capabilities, reconfiguring does not appear to help firms embed life cycle management. This study contributes to the literature on life cycle management and dynamic capabilities.
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