Organizing matters: how ‘the social dimension’ gets lost in sustainability projects

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Abstract

This paper explores the conditions for taking the social dimension into consideration when trying to aim for increased sustainability through activities organized in projects. Among the three commonly accepted pillars of sustainable development – economic, ecological and social – the social dimension is often the most vague and least explicit in practical attempts to shape sustainable development. The aim with this study is to explore the role of organizing in shaping the balance between the pillars. The two cases examined are projects explicitly related to sustainable development goals set by the national government or parliament and implemented by other actors. The cases concern two topics: food production and electromagnetic fields. On the basis of relevant organizational dimensions and case analyses, the paper shows how the organization of sustainability shapes the ways in which the projects articulate the social dimension. This leads to practical advice for organizing new projects in the future. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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