Psychosocial factors influencing the experience of sustainability professionals

Andrews, Nadine (2017) Psychosocial factors influencing the experience of sustainability professionals. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8 (4). pp. 445-469.

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Purpose The study seeks to gain insight into psychosocial factors influencing sustainability professionals in their work to lead by influencing and improving pro-environmental decision-making in their organisations. Approach Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as a framework, the study enquires into the lived experience of sustainability professionals and leaders from the UK and Canada. The primary data source is semi- structured interviews, analysed with frame and metaphor analysis. Findings Key psychosocial factors involved in participants’ experience are identified, specifically psychological threat coping strategies, psychological needs, motivation and vitality, finding complex interactions between them. Tensions and trade-offs between competency, relatedness and autonomy needs and coping strategies such as suppression of negative emotion and ‘deep green’ identity are modelled in diagrams to show the dynamics. How these tensions are negotiated has implications for psychological wellbeing and effectiveness, as well as for pro-environmental cognition and behaviour. Implications The concepts and models presented in this paper may be of practical use to sustainability professionals, environmentalists and organisation leaders, for example in identifying interventions to develop inner resources, support authentic and effective action and disrupt maladaptive responses to ecological crisis. Originality/value The paper contributes insight to understanding of underlying processes shaping environmental cognition and behaviour, particularly in relation to psychological threat coping strategies and interacting factors. With a transdisciplinary approach, the methodology enables nuanced interpretation of complex phenomena to be generated, and addresses gaps in psychology and organisation studies sustainability research, with implications for the future study of sustainability leadership.

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Journal Article
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Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
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This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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22 Mar 2017 11:18
Last Modified:
26 Sep 2023 00:35