Enablers and Disablers in the Communication of Sustainability Discourses between Local Government and Businesses
Whitaker, S. (2011). Enablers and Disablers in the Communication of Sustainability Discourses between Local Government and Businesses (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6058
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6058
Abstract New Zealand businesses have looked to position themselves within the global market place as pioneers of environmentally sustainable business practice. This strategic development of environmental sustainability as part of our national ‘brand’ gives us an innovative edge in the market place. But as environmental sustainability becomes an ever more contentious issue we need to ask questions about how we will continue to define and negotiate our understanding so we can continue to compete within a growing market of educated consumers. Our ideas of what it means to be environmentally sustainable are continually shifting under the influence of competing worldviews. And for New Zealand to continue to compete we must understand the negotiation of the meaning of environmental sustainability and ensure that each party is represented in this negotiation. Within wider society government and business operate to set benchmarks for environmentally sustainable practice. Thus the communication between these two stakeholder groups is to negotiate and create discourses and ideas about sustainable business practice which businesses take to the market place as their competitive advantage. The ways in which discourses regarding the issue are communicated between government and businesses within New Zealand’s Waikato region are important to understand in order to understand how this affects the potential for business to use sustainable practices within local and global market places. This is because our understanding of what sustainable business practice is directly affects the ways in which we in act it. The way we think is the way we act. This paper uses stakeholder theory to address two key research questions; what discourses are employed by key stakeholders in understanding and negotiating issues of sustainability within and between local government and local business sectors? And how do these discourses facilitate or impede the implementation of sustainable business practices? Using a mixed method approach of both quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews of business leaders and governmental agencies this case study develops a snapshot of negotiated meanings of environmentally sustainable business practice. This project identifies distinct difficulties in the areas of stakeholder engagement stemming from a lack of clearly defined shared goals, differences which exist between the communication styles of various stakeholders, the presence of stakeholder hegemony and the lack of a clearly defined authority on sustainable action. The results from this project have drawn the researcher to provide recommendations to local government institutions which include a realignment of communication goals to more closely match business interests, a use of business orientated language and the development of a stream of communication which is aimed at educating small to medium enterprises on the benefits of sustainable action both within the local market place and within the international market place for those looking to trade internationally.
University of Waikato
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