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What factors enable or hinder corporate sustainability transition?

Karen Landmark disputerer for ph.d.-graden med avhandlingen «Enabling corporate sustainability transition: The case of the Norwegian process industry» fredag 15. februar 2019. (Foto: Privat)

“I have discovered that leaders have much knowledge about the global challenges we face, most agree that something must be done. Still, the development of plans and concrete measures is slow.”

Karen Landmark

PhD Candidate and FoU&I leader of NCE iKuben

Awareness of the necessity of industry transitions to more sustainable production exists and is recognised, still progress is slow. Karen Landmark has studied the causes in the thesis she defended for her PhD 15 February 2019, ‘Enabling corporate sustainability transition: The case of the Norwegian process industry’.

Karen Landmark has followed the PhD programme at the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder.

In her research she has studied the Eyde-cluster – process industry in Southern Norway, the maritime company Brunvoll in Molde (company profile) and the geographic region Agder.

Her research was funded by a BIA project in cooperation with NTNU and the University of Agder as well as five different businesses.

This is how the candidate describes the main points of her thesis:

It is urgent!

My doctoral thesis focused on trying to understand what enables and what hinders corporate sustainability transition.

Industry clusters and leaders

I have studied how related industries in the region, so-called industry clusters, approach sustainability and transition management, and how leaders in particular think about sustainability and the necessity of action. 

I have also focused on how the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement affect the choice of business strategy and how companies are regionally affected by global trends, modes of thinking and ideas about sustainability.

The knowledge exists, but transition is slow

I have discovered that leaders have much knowledge about the global challenges we face, most agree that something must be done.

Still, the development of plans and concrete measures is slow.

In my thesis I was curious about this gap between knowledge and action.

Cooperation strengthens commitment to sustainability

I have also found that in the face of global sustainability challenges, companies in our region seek to cooperate, both among themselves and with the system of innovation they are part of, and this cooperation seems to strengthen the commitment to sustainability by all parties.

In addition, I have also looked at how we humans see ourselves as separate from or as part of nature, and how our thinking affects the way we approach the sustainability challenges.

I argue in favour of a systemic holistic approach to sustainability, where we to a greater extent recognise that we are part of and completely reliant on a well-functioning ecosystem.

A shift is urgent

Sustainability has been the focus of my work for several years, and to be given the opportunity to do research on the topic has been very useful to me to get a better understanding of what we face now.

Sustainability transition is urgent in every field, business and industry included.

I hope my thesis will give some new perspectives on this.

Disputation facts:

Candidate: Karen Landmark (1974), Kristiansand, Cand.mag. from the University of Oslo in Media Studies, MA from Universiteit van Amsterdam in European Communication Studies, MoM BI (30 credit points) CSR, Globalization and Climate Change. Was employed as research fellow by NTNU, but residing at UiA. Currently FoU&I leader in NCE  iKuben http://ikuben.no/

Trial lecture and public defence will take place in the Auditorium in the FoU building, Jon Lilletuns vei 3, Campus Grimstad, Friday 15 February 2019.

The disputation is led by Gøril Hannås, head of Department of Working Life and Innovation. 

Trial lecture at 10:00

Public defence at 12:00

Stated topic for trial lecture: “The cluster concept and the role that clusters play in regional sustainable development”

Title of thesis: “Enabling corporate sustainability transition: The case of the Norwegian process industry”

Search for the thesis in AURA – Agder University Research Archive – a digital archive for academic articles, theses and master’s dissertations by staff and students at the University of Agder. AURA is updated regularly. The thesis will be available at the University Library. Copies of the thesis will be available for loan at the auditorium where the disputation is held.

Opponents:

First opponent: Associate Professor Lizhen Huang, Department of Manufacturing and Civil Engineering, NTNU

Second opponent: Research Director James Wilson, Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness/Researcher Deusto Business School

The Evaluation Committee is headed by Professor James Karlsen, Department of Working Life and Innovation, UiA  

Supervisors for the doctoral work were Professor Hans Christian Garmann Johnsen at the Department of Working Life and Innovation, UiA (main supervisor); Professor Halvor Holtskog, Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management (IØT), NTNU-Gjøvik (co-supervisor); and Associate Professor Stina Torjesen, Department of Economics and Finance, UiA (co-supervisor).