Changing Stocks, Flows and Behaviors in Industrial Ecosystems

Changing Stocks, Flows and Behaviors in Industrial Ecosystems

Edited by Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir

Industrial ecology provides a consistent material and energetic description of human production and consumption processes in the larger context of environmental and socioeconomic change. The contributors to this book offer methodologies for such descriptions, focusing on the dynamics associated with stocks of materials and capital, flows of raw materials, intermediate products, desired outputs and wastes, as well as the associated changes in behaviors of producers, consumers and institutions.

Chapter 9: Organizational Dynamics in Industrial Ecosystems: Insights from

Organizational Theory, Jennifer Howard-Grenville and Raymond Paquin

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, organisation studies, economics and finance, industrial organisation, environment, environmental management, environmental sociology


organizational theory Jennifer Howard-Grenville and Raymond Paquin INTRODUCTION Industrial ecology’s strength, as a theoretical and practical approach, is its attention to systemic interactions between organizations and the natural environment itself (Graedel and Allenby 1995). The metaphor of sustainable natural ecosystems provides a vision for the transformation of industrial production through optimizing the flow of materials and energy at the local, regional, and global scale (Chertow 2000; Korhonen et al. 2004). This perspective has shifted attention away from improving or optimizing the immediate environmental impact of a single facility, as typically demanded by pollution prevention and other traditional environmental management approaches, towards a more holistic view of the company as a part of a larger network of exchanges. This physical network, however, must also be understood as embedded within a social system that influences individual and organizational action, which in turn critically contributes to the development and dynamics of industrial ecosystems. This chapter presents three important and interrelated perspectives in organizational theory – institutional theory, field theory, and social network theory – that together shed light on the organizational dynamics inherent in and critical to the development of industrial ecosystems. Within the social science literature, these theories provide a language and set of conceptual tools for holistically analyzing the formal and informal influences of the broader social environment on a company, its possible actions within this environment, and associated outcomes. Such an understanding also sheds light on the constraints and opportunities that individual decision makers face and enables a better understanding...

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