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Quiet Activists - Environmental Values and Value Adjustment in Environmental Policy Advisors

In this thesis, I investigate the influence of environmental values on the work of environmental policy advisors in a regional council in New Zealand and the influence on the institutional values of their work environment on their personal environmental values. Values are relatively stable concepts of socially acquired beliefs and norms that influence the perception and behaviour of humans and are organised in interdependent and dynamic structures that can be changed through social experiences. Environmental values are partly responsible for environmentally friendly behaviour, which encompasses a variety of activities and even lifestyle choices. People, who have chosen to work in the environmental sector are exposed to environmental values through working for institutions that represent environmentally friendly principles. By working in an environmental context, environmental values can get changed by social interaction, which can lead to an adjustment or approximation to the dominant notion of environmental values within the workplace (Finegan, 2000) Although policy advice is expected to be a neutral and objective task, statements are still written by persons with an individual opinion that, although suppressed, represents the values of the writer (Heineman, Bluhm, Peterson, Keary, 2002). It is therefore likely that the whole process of evaluating information and preparing a policy recommendation is influenced by the values of the policy advisor. My findings indicate that environmental values of employees get adjusted to the institution's environmental values through their work. This happens through a merging of their private environmental values into their professional values, through processes of adjustment. This change not only results in identification with the job but also presents a way to circumvent possible value conflicts in the work environment. The policy process involves a number of stages where information is re-evaluated and discussed to fit the formal and structural requirements of policy making under the Resource Management Act, which is done in collaboration with others. This leads to a social construction of values that are represented in collaboratively developed policy recommendation. In my conclusion, I show that policy advisors at regional government level use. in New Zealand have environmental values, use them for environmental protection, and adjust them to work more efficiently for the environment within a public service organisation. The use of their environmental values by the participants show that they are environmentalists and do what environmentalists do, but in a quiet, unobtrusive way.
Type of thesis
Grübmeyer, S. F. (2007). Quiet Activists - Environmental Values and Value Adjustment in Environmental Policy Advisors (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2369
The University of Waikato
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