A General Evolutionary Methodology for Sustainable Development
In order to determine the dynamic factors inducing the evolution of environmental management strategies in the context of sustainable development, I draw upon theory from the field of general evolutionary sciences (including chaos theory, complexity science, and nonlinear thermodynamics). I translate this emerging theoretical worldview to a general evolutionary methodology for the analysis of sustainable development strategies. Application of the methodology to selected case studies indicates that sustainable development strategies co-evolve in response to organizational values, technology, and organizational structure inside the firm, and to the environmental management field outside the firm. Competing notions of sustainable development influence the politicization process that limits the types of sustainable development strategies chosen and implemented. The evidence also indicates that new pathways of efficiency are emerging in sustainable development based on market driven strategies, institutional partnerships, and the formation of new industries.
The dissertation is based on case study analysis of three sustainable development projects of three different environmental organizations, the International Institute for Energy Conservation, the Environmental Law Institute, and Sanders International. The results have implications for sustainable development theory and practical implications for policy analysts and sustainable development advocates, as well as for a subtler and deeper personal understanding of our place in the world.