Sustainable Development: The Nature of Change and the Influence of Cultural Traits

PhD Thesis

Sandland, S. 2016. Sustainable Development: The Nature of Change and the Influence of Cultural Traits. PhD Thesis University of East London Business and Law
AuthorsSandland, S.
TypePhD Thesis

It is only in the last few years that researchers have started to investigate the impact of cultural characteristics on the approach nations take to addressing the demands of sustainable development. The basis of such work tends to resort to the use of frameworks that were developed by Hofstede and the GLOBE project. Rogge, Dessein, and and Verhoeve (2013) argue that research into subjects as complex as this should commence with work of a more exploratory nature. This thesis is multidisciplinary, and uses a variety of methods to provide that first exploration into the nature of this relationship. My review of literature reveals that there is general acceptance that paradigmatic change is necessary but that decision making, behaviour and politics all tend to “safer” incremental steps. Using systems theory to examine the nature of paradigm change I identify the potential scope of government influence. The remainder of my work concentrates on the development of case studies of Japan, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, focussing on the manner in which the governments concerned support small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) within the country in developing more sustainable practices. I use these case studies to identify the impact of culture. I find that the cultural dimension as defined in classic frameworks is not the pertinent issue, but the nation is likely to be sensitive to environmental demands if the environmental damage impinges on areas of their life that they value. If there are characteristics within the nation that provide for care and support then action is more likely to be taken. The other characteristics necessary to see through financing such action are perserverence and a long-term view. My other finding is that the use of statistical analysis and frameworks of cultural characteristics is problematic in that they both simplify a subject that should be understood in all its complexity.

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Deposited21 Nov 2016
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