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The Decentred Firm and the Adoption of Sustainable Office Space in Sydney, Australia

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As the social, ecological and economic benefits of green buildings become more established, firms, especially professional service firms, are responding by adopting sustainable office space (SOS). Accelerating this uptake demands a nuanced appreciation of firms’ understandings of and motivations for adopting SOS. Through a qualitative study of professional service firms in Sydney, this paper brings together a decentred understanding of the contemporary firm drawn from the ‘new economic geographies’ approach and theories of corporate social responsibility to trace and interpret the diverse and overlapping motivations shaping the uptake of SOS amongst these firms. The firm is shown to be a site of plurality and agency, governed by multiple logics. Whilst motivations informed by economic logic remain persuasive and pervasive, the adoption of SOS is simultaneously informed by a wider palette of logics, including environmental and social logics. The paper argues that a decentred conceptualisation of the firm brings the multiplicity of firms’ orientations towards SOS into view and, in so doing, has the potential to inform a politics of intervention for steering firms towards more socially and environmentally sustainable behaviours.
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Keywords: Green Star; Sydney; Sustainable office space; corporate social responsibility; decentred firm; professional services firm

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Technology, Sydney, Australia 2: University of Newcastle, Australia

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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