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«Limitations of Sustainability Implementation amongst Project Managers Case study in an Icelandic energy company Master of Science Thesis in the ...»

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2.4.5 Lack of information Organisations often fail to communicate effectively the purpose and strategy of their sustainability efforts and Doppelt (2003) describes it as lack of information. This is often seen in project based organisations where the project divisions make it difficult to have unified strategy and for knowledge to be diffused across projects (Newell et.al., 2003). Trainings, sign posting and scattered events are unsatisfactory to describe the commitment the organisations have made to sustainability (Doppelt, Overcoming the Seven Sustainability Blunders, 2003). In the change management literature the emphasis is on giving important stakeholders as much information as possible early in the project process. It is also important to constantly repeat the change messages in a clear and consistent way (Verhulst and Boks, 2012; Lewis et.al., 2006). Human behaviour, social values and attitudes towards the world and environment are facilitated by communication and humans construct their reality on the basis of perceptions and experiences (Godemann & Michelsen, 2011). Therefore transparency and honesty in communications is the key to avoid the fifth blunder (Doppelt, Overcoming the Seven Sustainability Blunders, 2003). By constantly communicating the messages across to employees with structured dialogue the members feel more involved in the process (Lewis et.al., 2006). Eventually sustainability will become the languages of the organisation (Doppelt, Overcoming CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 the Seven Sustainability Blunders, 2003). Languages are a vital part of communications and it constructs reality and social actions as well as allowing humans to find orientation and coordinate action. The meaning of our world is expressed with the relationship between words and the boundaries of our languages points to the boundaries of our world. It is therefore important to learn to express sustainability with words (Siebert, 2011). Sustainability communication is the human process of dealing with future development of society towards sustainability. It provides a framework for understanding a wide variety of social systems and actors such as the interactions amongst individuals, between individuals and institutions, between and within institutions, in the media and politics as well as on different levels; regional, national and international. When changes in individual attitudes and behaviour are connected to sustainability communication the modifications in lifestyle take on a special meaning, however only emphasising the importance of the concept is not enough to trigger change in a population. Communication about sustainability is about communicating knowledge (Godemann & Michelsen, 2011).

2.4.6 Insufficient mechanisms for learning Organisational learning and the motivation for employees to test new ideas are important to overcome barriers to change. Doppelt (2003) calls failure in these areas insufficient mechanisms for learning. Organisation must alter their feedback and learning mechanisms so that employees and stakeholders are motivated to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding. According to Lewis et.al. (2006) the management literature recommends adapting a two-way communication route with the employees and highlights the importance of being a good listener in order to provide productive feedback. Communications along with educational procedures make individuals able to actively participate in shaping a sustainable society by endorsing individual engagement, encourage political education and strengthening civil society (Godemann & Michelsen, 2011). Training and education is one of main ways to overcome barriers to implementation of sustainability (Esquer-Peralta, Velazquez, & Munguia, 2008). Sustainability communication is managed with methods and tool to influence the process. One method is empowerment of strategies, which is about helping people recognise non-sustainable actions and apply knowledge about sustainability in order to rectify them. The ultimate goal is to involve people in CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 shaping the conditions of their own life. Education processes for sustainability have the mission of sharpen individual awareness in both private and personal life. In order for them to be able to take action against non-sustainable doings, evolve their problem-solving skills and make suitable changes in their behaviour. (Godemann & Michelsen, 2011). The critics on educating for sustainability point out that the education lacks grounding in educational theory and that it is rather politically driven (Bormann, 2011).

2.4.7 Failure to institutionalize sustainability The last blunder Doppelt (2003) talks about is the failure to institutionalize sustainability. Few organisations have successfully implemented sustainability-based thinking into everyday processes, policies and culture. One of main difficulties with the implementation of sustainability is the problem of how humans think, human values and perceptions might not be in line with sustainability values (Millar, Hind, & Magala, 2012; Marshall, Coleman, & Reason, 2011; Brown, 2005). Doppelt (2003) recommends that parameters be adjusted by aligning systems and structures with sustainability. This is a continuous process and the organisation needs to incorporate new ways of thinking and acting in how it does business (Doppelt, Overcoming the Seven Sustainability Blunders, 2003). Focusing on involvement and empowerment is important to get the employees engaged and enthusiastic in the implementation process. Which in turn will make them participate actively and enables new sustainable culture to prosper inside the company (Verhulst & Boks, 2012). To implement sustainability change it has to be rooted in personal value systems because the initial sources of sustainability barriers can be traced to personal cognitive frameworks (Millar, Hind, & Magala, 2012). In order for companies to live up to their values as being a sustainable organisation they have to train their future leaders. Not only do they have to deal with complex economic, social and environmental problems but also practice leadership that makes a difference for the business and the world.

Those companies that are ahead in this process have an internal steering committee of executives in order to bring different departments together. On top of that they have board of directors that have overview over their sustainability performance.

Publishing of reports to show their progress in the area is also a factor in the process (Mirvis, Googins, & Kinnicutt, 2010).

CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 2.4.8 Summary of limitations of sustainability implementation Doppelt’s seven sustainability blunders describe the barriers organisations and project teams face when implementing sustainability. Keeping those blunders in mind reduces the risk of them taking place. To be able to recognize the benefits of implementing sustainability into projects and organisations it is vital to translate the sustainability strategy into measurable goals (Edwards, 2009; Epstein and Roy, 2001). But it can be hard for organisations to link project performance to higher-level goals and therefore the project’s contribution to sustainable development is not always clear (Boswell, Wallace, & Boswell, 2005). Gilbert Silvius states that the impact of sustainability is not yet recognized in project management because of the way projects are managed, measured and reported does not fit with the sustainability concept. Therefore there is a growing need to practically implement the concept in the management of projects (Maltzman & Shirley, 2012, cited Gilbert Silvius).

CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 3 Methodology This section contains the methodology for this dissertation. The research strategy, design and method are presented as well as data collection and analysis is explained.

At last the limitations and ethical concerns are listed.

Methodology is according to the Oxford dictionaries ‘a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity’ (Oxford University Press, 2014). In this dissertation a system of methods will be used in order to understand and explain the research process and answer the research question posed. A case study was done in an Icelandic energy company called Landsvirkjun. The reason for choosing this company was that it is a project based company that has recently implemented sustainability into their corporate strategy.

3.1 Research strategy Research strategy is according to Bryman (2008) a term that refers to the orientation of conducting a social research and the distinction between the concepts qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative research method is a research strategy that focuses more on words than quantification in the collection and analysis of the data (Bryman, 2008). Qualitative research method was undertaken in this dissertation.

According to Bryman (2008) qualitative research strategy has three main characteristics that differ from quantitative research strategy, which mainly focuses on numbers when data is gathered and analysed.

Inductive theory is when observations and findings from analysed data are • used to generate theory, deductive approach on the other hand is when theory is explored and hypothesis conducted from the theory, data is then collected in order to confirm or reject hypothesis.

Interpretivism is an epistemological term that indicates that a strategy is • required in order to respect the differences between people and the objects of the natural sciences, unlike positivism that is also an epistemological term that supports the application of the methods of natural sciences to the study of social reality and beyond.

Ontological considerations deal with the questions whether social entities have • reality external to social actors or if they are social constructions build up from CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 the perceptions and actions of social actors. Ontological considerations can be divided in to two positions; objectivism, which indicates that social phenomena are seen as external facts that are beyond our reach and influence.

And constructionism, which claims that social factors affect social phenomena and their meanings (Bryman, 2008).

In this qualitative research a deductive approach was used. A thorough literature review was conducted before gathering the data allowing the theory to guide the research. This research was based on the epistemological term interpretivism where the researcher interpreted the results in the best way possible given the circumstances being a student. Finally the ontological consideration constructionism was held up as it claims that social phenomena and their meanings can be affected by social factors.

The researcher tried to see things through the eyes of the respondents studied. Bryman and Bell (2011) explain that the matter of the social science differ from the matter of the natural science.

Defining a research question is probably one of the most important steps in a research study and the researcher should allow sufficient time early in the research process for this task (Yin, 2009), in later stages of the research process the research question might be re-evaluated and the specifications for it tightened (Bryman, 2008). A research question was posed in early stages of the dissertation process and along the way it was reconsidered due to new findings and evolvement of the project. The research question guided the research in many ways for example in the literature search, what data was needed to collect and analysis of the data. The research question also hinders the researcher to go into unnecessary directions in the research process (Bryman, 2008).

3.1.1 Research design A research design provides a framework for the collection and analysis of data (Bryman, 2008). There are five main research designs available according to Bryman (2008) and they are; experimental design, cross-sectional design, longitudinal design, CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 comparative design and case study design. In this dissertation a case study design was chosen and therefore further details of other designs will not be provided.

A case study research design is the detailed and intensive analysis of a single case where it is attempted to understand a real life phenomenon in depth, it can also be done on several cases for comparative purposes. The term case is often associated with organisation or community and arises out of the desire to understand complex social phenomena (Yin, 2009; Bryman, 2008). Case studies can either be qualitative or quantitative (Bryman, 2008). Case studies have been criticized for lack of rigidness and therefore allowed the researcher to be careless; not followed the systematic procedures, been open to more than one interpretation of evidence or biased towards the direction of the conclusions. They have also been criticized for lack of basis for scientific generalization and for taking to long (Yin, 2009). The rational for doing a case study in this dissertation is because the goal was to capture everyday circumstances thought processes of ordinary employees of the company. That falls under one of Yin’s (2009) rational for doing a case study and he calls it the representative or the typical case. Figure 1 illustrates the case study design process and how it is divided into three main areas of defining and designing the case study;

preparing, collecting and analysing the data were the opportunity to go back to the initial theory is available and modifications can be done to match the theory properly to the findings; and finally the final analysing of the data and conclusions of the findings.

Figure 1 Case study design adapted from Yin (2009).

CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2014:111 According to Bryman (2008) many qualitative researchers choose to employ the terms validity and reliability in a similar fashion as is done in quantitative researches.

External reliability means the degree to which the study can be replicated and this is a very difficult area to meet because qualitative studies take place in social settings, which are very hard to replicate. Internal reliability is when more than one observer of the research team agrees on what they see or hear. Internal validity is whether the match between researchers findings and theoretical ideas developed is strong.

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