The Meaning of Environmental Management : An Interpretive Study of Managing Emergent or Evolutionary Environmental and Energy Strategy

University dissertation from IIIEE, Lund University

Abstract: Because of the vital roles of industry in sustainable development, it is essentialthat environmental management is effective in preventing pollution. To this end,environmental management systems have been implemented to a growing extent inindustry. Moreover, this Ph.D. research has demonstrated that environmentalmanagement efforts must be systematic to use environmental performanceindicators effectively. However, the research has also revealed that environmentalmanagement systems did not necessarily improve environmental performance. Inorder to enable development of more effective environmental management, thisPh.D. research explored how environmental management efforts affectedemployees, whether effective environmental management might be contingentupon strategy contexts, and how environmental strategy was developed. In thecontext of emergent strategies, change, innovation and complexity, the researchfor this dissertation examined effective environmental management usinginterpretive methodology and case studies. Noting that strategy could be emergent,i.e. emanate from the organization rather than being imposed upon it, a goal of theresearch was to understand the practice of management without a predeterminedstrategy. The research findings demonstrated that management systems behaveddifferently depending on if the strategy context was deliberate, evolutionary oremergent. In deliberate strategy contexts, formal management systems mayimprove performance by reducing variability and risk. In evolutionary strategycontexts, formal management systems were employed in internal competition bychampions. In the context of emergent strategies, formal management systemsseemed to be irrelevant or even impediments to necessary change and innovation.