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Special Topic Workshop

The conference theme of GRONEN 2012 “Corporate Sustainability – Off to Pastures New or Back to the Roots?” puts particular emphasis on some of the fundamental notions of sustainable development that may have been neglected in the current corporate sustainability research as well as on the integration of novel theories and approaches that have not yet been adopted to investigate corporate greening.
GRONEN 2012 will include a special topic workshops that reflects this conference theme. In this workshop we will explore and discuss the implications of the fundamental but neglected notion of sufficiency for corporate sustainability research.

Special topic workshop on sufficiency
For this special topic workshop we have invited two experts from outside the corporate sustainability field who will present their views on sufficiency. We have the pleasure to have Prof John Lastovicka (Arizona State University) and Dr Thomas Princen (University of Michigan) as experts with us.

  • John Lastovicka is Professor of Marketing at the Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Besides his research interests in advances in the measurement and analysis of marketing data, in motivations to understanding consumer behavior and mass media effects on young male drinking-driving behaviors he more recently focuses on the emotionally laden meanings that consumers project onto their material possessions (for more information see here)
  • Thomas Princen is Associate Professor of Natural Resource and Environmental Policy at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan. Thomas has a background in biology, political science and economics and his research focuses on issues of social and ecological sustainability with a primary focus on the drivers of overconsumption and the conditions for restrained resource use. Sufficiency in the context of sustainable development at the societal level is one of Thomas’ principle field of research where he has published several books and journal papers. (for more information see here)

Prof Lastovicka and Dr Princen will both give an impulse speech:

John Lastovicka:
Homo Consumerus: Consumers’ Biological-Evolutionary Roots & Sustainable Consumption

Thomas Princen:
Sufficiency: In Principle, In Practice

Participants are asked to prepare their participation by reading a couple of fundamental papers on sufficiency and are invited to submit and present short position papers. Overall, with this workshop we seek to provide a creative space with inspiring stimuli where participants can develop and extend their views in corporate sustainability aspects and hopefully develop new ideas for their research projects.

In the context of strategies for sustainable development at the societal level, Huber (2000) distinguishes three different strategy types: efficiency, sufficiency, and consistency strategies. Efficiency considerations have been widely adopted in research in sustainability at the corporate and organisational level. Consistency, strategies, i.e. the idea to achieve compatibility between the industrial and natural metabolism, has been echoed less in the field of management and organisation studies but has been applied at the corporate level by industrial ecology scholars. In contrast, sufficiency, i.e. the idea to limit production and consumption patterns to natural boundaries and the carrying capacity of natural and social systems, has hardly been adopted in academic sustainability research at the organisational level. With the increasing urgency of sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or resource scarcity, the idea of sufficiency – albeit unpopular – might gain more importance. The special topic workshop on sufficiency seeks to explore and discuss what it means to adopt sufficiency as a research perspective in sustainability research at the organisational level. Potentially relevant research questions are manifold and touch upon different disciplines such as entrepreneurship, governance, marketing, psychology or philosophy: How could a business model based on sufficiency look like and do we find evidence for such business models? What does sufficiency mean for governance in order to determine how much is enough, especially in contrast to markets that are driven by efficiency and growth? Is the notion of profit maximisation compatible with the idea of sufficiency? Are there consumer segments that are willing to support sufficient lifestyles and products?

The aim of this special topic workshop is to unearth interesting research questions for high-level academic research around sufficiency at the organisational level and to discuss suitable theoretical and methodological approaches to investigate such questions.