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Sustainable Development Stakeholder Networks for Organisational Change in Higher Education Institutions: A Case Study from the UK

Vargas, V and Lawthom, R and Prowse, A and Randles, Sally and Tzoulas, K (2019) Sustainable Development Stakeholder Networks for Organisational Change in Higher Education Institutions: A Case Study from the UK. Journal of Cleaner Production, 208. pp. 470-478. ISSN 0959-6526

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Abstract

Progressing towards sustainable development remains a key global challenge. And yet, the various interpretations of the concept of sustainable development and the questions it raises about economic growth make its implementation difficult. Higher education institutions may help to overcome these difficulties by developing new processes of change. However, to achieve this they need to integrate sustainable development in all their areas of activity. The aim of this paper was to develop new insights into organisational change processes in universities relating to sustainable development. Contributing to this aim, this paper reports on a case study of United Kingdom higher education drawing on findings and conclusions from a survey of their policy frameworks relating to sustainable development. The method comprised a critical policy analysis in order to identify, differentiate and categorise stakeholder interactions. The data generated comprised the range of higher education stakeholders and the network of interactions that they formed. Theoretical insights from social network analysis, stakeholder theory and the normative business model were used to find opportunities to address the difficulties in the implementation of sustainable development. Results suggested that the existing networks identified in the policy frameworks may not support the effective integration of sustainable development in higher education. Low-density of the national networks; the lack of a clear governance vocabulary for national policy frameworks; and the lack of explicit funding flows between organisations all pose problems for organisational change towards sustainable development in higher education.

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