Modeling the agents of cyclical change in order to determine appropriate movement towards sustainability

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Sandland, S. and Haberberg, A. 2016. Modeling the agents of cyclical change in order to determine appropriate movement towards sustainability. 4th Business Systems Laboratory International Symposium. Mykolas Romeris University Vilnius, Lithuania 24 - 26 Aug 2016
AuthorsSandland, S. and Haberberg, A.
Abstract

It is argued that the degree of change required for the developed world to move to a sustainable pattern of life is in the order of a paradigmatic change as described by Kuhn (Smith, 1998). It follows that an understanding of the agents of change that has in the past been instrumental in the emergence of a new paradigm needs to be fully developed in order to assess whether it would be possible to engineer a successful transition into a sustainable model. Little research has been conducted into the factors that can shape a new paradigm. However Kondratieff’s long wave theory (O’Hara, 1994) includes recognition that economic cycles and paradigm change are inextricably linked. A multi-disciplined approach taken by theorists seeking to understand the factors that contribute to the phenomenon has identified the role of societal, industrial and bureaucratic pressures in driving long waves (Perez, 1983, in Freeman, 1986).
Technological innovation can achieve significant strides towards the introduction of sustainable patterns of consumption. However, whilst Rogers, theory on the diffusion of innovation reveals steps that businesses can take in order to promote acceptance of new products (Rogers, 2003), those that could theoretically deliver significant benefits have met unforeseen obstacles that impede the achievement of their full potential. Analysis of typical barriers to adoption revealed a marked similarity to the agents of change identified in Kondratieff’s long wave theory in that bureaucratic, industrial and social barriers were seen to operate (Castellano, 2015; Progressive Digital Media, 2015).
This coincidence underpins the central argument of this paper, that the interplay between numerous factors that are apparently external to both business and the innovation in question is critical to its successful adoption. In this paper the relationships between the influential factors that have been recognised by various theorists analysing Kondratieff’s long waves have been brought together.. Using systems analysis tools, the understanding necessary to underpin the application of systems dynamics has been developed. Starting with systems maps and relationship diagrams, multiple cause diagrams and sign graphs / causal loop diagrams have been developed in order to identify the manner in which business can exploit such understanding and consequently enhance the likelihood of the successful adoption of innovations that are more sustainable.
Kondratieff’s long waves have a distinct form. They are cyclical, occurring over a 50 year period. The overriding question in this paper is whether this 50 year period and the character of the new paradigm manipulated and controlled. It is clear that in isolation, businesses are not able to exert much influence in removing these external barriers to adoption of an innovation. Identification of the agents of change seen to operate in Kondratieff’s long waves reveal that the role of governments and education are seen to be central, but other factors ranging from national culture, to the complexity of technology itself are seen to influence the ease with which an innovation is accepted. This analysis would suggest that much greater levels of cooperation between these entities are needed if paradigm change and the acceptance of sustainable innovations is to be stimulated.

KeywordsInnovation; paradigm change; sustainable development; long wave theory; culture
Year2016
Conference4th Business Systems Laboratory International Symposium
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CompletedAug 2016
Deposited29 Mar 2022
Web address (URL)http://bslab-symposium.net/Vilnius.2016/4th.International.Symposium.Vilnius-2016.htm
Copyright holder© 2016 The Authors
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