Environmental leadership : the discipline of green champions
Author(s)Lyddy, Christopher (Christopher James)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Modern society's inertia is driving it towards an ever-expanding environmental footprint, a course that if unchecked will produce calamitous environmental outcomes. Avoiding this future requires increasing capacity for deep and durable change in society. Since existing approaches - e.g., science, education, policy, market incentives - have been unsuccessful at achieving this level of change, a key ingredient is apparently missing. Environmental leadership, which I define as the capacity of a human community to improve its future connection with and impact upon the environment, can be that catalyst of a more sustainable society. This thesis explores how to increase environmental leadership capacity by revealing effective environmental leadership strategy. Given pragmatic concerns with the limited power possessed by environmentalists, the inherently unstable nature of gains made through power, and unlikelihood of achieving deeper transformations through coercion, I explore leadership strategy for creating change beyond the extent of its authority and without imposing the government's coercive power. I had presumed three existing veins within leadership literature - Interpersonal Influence, Capacity-Building, and Contextual Design - would adequately explain environmental leadership strategy, with Interpersonal Influence being the primary mechanism. While leaders indeed acted in all three styles, Contextual Design instead emerged as a surprisingly key route to influence. Analysis of interviews with 32 environmental leaders revealed an important, previously underreported aspect to leadership actions. Leaders routinely amplified and institutionalized their leadership influence by designing and creating durable structures achieving four purposes - Supplying, Community-Building, Integrating, and Mirroring.(cont.) All three leadership approaches both supported and were supported by structures, which could function as supportive tools or standalone allies. I speculate that structures were effective because of both their durability and their more subtle and tangible influence on behavior, an alternative to the prediction of appeals to abstract thoughts and values. Extensive additional work exploring environmental leadership remains, and I offer some questions to guide additional research. I conclude with initial perspectives on how the notion of designer-leaders informs strategic thinking about environmental change.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (p. 86-88).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.