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Title: Sustainable development through the Clean Development Mechanism :an examination of Malaysian business organisations
Authors: Moohan-Sidhu, Ann Marie
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Sustainable development and sustainability have become key ways of addressing the myriad of environmental and social problems faced on a global scale. The activities of business organisations are often linked to environmental degradation, global warming, human rights abuses and corruption. These organisations therefore, should be held more accountable for their actions. It is important to study and challenge the narratives of sustainable development produced by business organisations in different contexts. Literature on sustainable development and business organisations is primarily business centric, focused on how sustainability is a ‘win-win’ for business, society and the environment. Further, ecological modernisation is often simply accepted as synonymous with sustainable development. Uncritical acceptance of these discourses fails to problematize the unsustainable activities of business. In this way, other critical narratives are silenced and the ways of carrying on business and governing society continue to serve the interests of only some stakeholders. This study investigates how business organisations in Malaysia, a developing country, write and speak about sustainability in the context of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The research examines the narratives used by these business organisations to determine if it is a discourse of sustainable development or whether other narratives are at play which mask an empty commitment to sustainability. This study contributes by providing evidence and interpretations of how business organisations within the CDM represent their contributions to sustainable development. Further, it shows how these conceptions are formed partly by the ecological modernisation (EM) discourse within which the CDM lies. The empirical investigation consisted of three main components. The first and second were a qualitative content analysis and an interpretive textual analysis of project design documents produced by Malaysian business organisations writing about their response to sustainable development. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with senior management of the participating business organisations to determine how they talked about sustainable development and what their motivations were for entering the CDM. The results of the study demonstrate that business organisations are engaged in narratives that only have a symbolic commitment to sustainable development and are influenced by economic centric concerns. In ‘doing sustainable development’ the business organisations are driven by the ecological modernisation narrative of the CDM. It is argued that it is not possible for these business organisations to move beyond the ‘glass cage’ of EM because eco- ii efficient ‘managerialism’ acts as a limiting conception of sustainable development. This narrow interpretation of sustainability, denies and ignores the tensions between growth and natural limits and the issues of justice and equity for existing and future generations.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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