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Exploring our ecological selves within learning organizations

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Purpose ‐ The paper's aim is to explore the connection between individual worldviews, called ecological selves, and organizational change, which allows people to create the conditions to confront the global environmental challenges they face as a species. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The essay is a conceptual one, with reference to a small qualitative interview study conducted to explore the idea of ecological selves with organizational leaders. Findings ‐ The findings reveal the existence of several different ecological selves in organizational life; they also suggest fruitful avenues for further research and ongoing practice. The eight ecological selves are the Eco-Guardian, the Eco-Warrior, the Eco-Manager, the Eco-Strategist, the Eco-Radical, the Eco-Holist, the Eco-Integralist, and the Eco-Sage. This framework, which is derived from developmental stage theory, is a useful tool for understanding how individual actions are shaped by people's identities and values. Research limitations/implications ‐ The preliminary research referenced in this study is of limited scope, consisting of a small sample of organizational leaders in a semi-structured qualitative interview setting. The implications, however, are more interesting for additional research on ecological selves as a tool for individual self-reflection, organizational culture, and teamwork learning. Practical implications ‐ This essay argues that creating an ecological selves inventory is useful in understanding how leaders create the conditions for sustainability in their organizations. Social implications ‐ Implications for understanding organizational culture are considered: the ecological selves framework is one tool to build self-awareness among organizational leaders, leading to stronger, more efficacious learning across a spectrum of skills necessary for leadership. Originality/value ‐ Although the ecological selves framework has been proposed as a theoretical concept in the literature of integral ecology, this paper refers to the first research done with organizational leaders.
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Keywords: Adult development; Organizational change; Organizational culture; Sustainability; Sustainable development; Values

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 6, 2012

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