Sensemaking for sustainable development : complexity thinking as a behaviour change approach

GILLIGAN, Christine (2013). Sensemaking for sustainable development : complexity thinking as a behaviour change approach. In: 16th ERSCP (European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production conference) and 7th EMSR, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2013. (Unpublished)


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Sustainable development, intended as a concept for social modernisation on a global scale, focussing on the triple bottom line of social equity, environmental quality and economic prosperity can be seen as vague and lacking relevance. The UK Government, aware that the achievement of sustainable development required behaviour change by all sectors of society, saw the voluntary sector, good at changing hearts and minds, as having the potential to encourage behaviour change at a local level. Linear approaches to behaviour change based on control and predictability, are challenged by complex problems like sustainable development, and furthermore, their hierarchal approach may be unattractive to the voluntary sector. Behaviour change for sustainable development may require a new approach to change and complexity thinking, enacted through Communities of Practice, offers a new way of thinking or sense making that overcomes the barriers, builds trust, and encourages shared learning to support behaviour change and innovation. Complexity thinking is a non-hierarchical approach that encourages learning from each other by bringing different stakeholders together to share knowledge. As well as encouraging the distribution of power and authority, it provides the flexibility for agents to develop their own locally appropriate interventions and as such may appeal to the voluntary sector. This research explored the potential of complexity thinking to encourage cognitive restructuring and increase voluntary sector support for behaviour change and utilise the capacity of the sector to think differently about the choices facing us.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > People, Work and Organisation
Depositing User: Christine Gilligan
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2014 10:42
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 21:11

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