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Restaurant industry sustainability: barriers and solutions to sustainable practice indicators

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Restaurants have a cumulative impact on the environment, economy, and society. The majority of restaurants are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Review of sustainability and industry literature revealed that considering restaurants as businesses with sustainable development options is the most appropriate way

Restaurants have a cumulative impact on the environment, economy, and society. The majority of restaurants are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Review of sustainability and industry literature revealed that considering restaurants as businesses with sustainable development options is the most appropriate way to evaluate their sustainable practices or lack thereof. Sustainable development is the means by which a company progresses towards achieving an identified set of sustainability goals and harnesses competitive advantage. The purpose of this thesis is to identify barriers to implementing sustainable practices in restaurants, and explore ways that restaurateurs can incorporate sustainable business practices. Energy consumption, water use, waste production, and food throughput are the four sustainability indicators addressed in this thesis. Interviews were conducted with five Tempe, Arizona restaurants, two of which consider their operations to be sustainable, and three of which are traditional restaurants. Results show that for traditional restaurants, the primary barriers to implementing sustainable business practices are cost, lack of awareness, and space. For sustainability-marketed restaurants, the barriers included a lack of knowledge or legal concerns. The sustainability-marketed restaurants have energy-efficient equipment and locally source a majority of their food purchases. There is a marked difference between the two types of restaurants in perception of barriers to sustainable business practices. I created a matrix to identify whether each indicator metric was applicable and present at a particular restaurant, and the potential barriers to implementing sustainable practices in each of the four indicator areas. Restaurants can use the assessment matrix to compare their current practices with sustainable practices and find ways to implement new or enhance existing sustainable practices. Identifying the barriers from within restaurants increases our understanding of the reasons why sustainable practices are not automatically adopted by SMEs. The assessment matrix can help restaurants overcome barriers to achieving sustainability by highlighting how to incorporate sustainable business practices.

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2011

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The status of green purchasing in the five most populous U.S. states

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I present a new framework for qualitative assessment of the current green purchasing practices of U.S. state governments. Increasing demand from citizens for green public purchasing has prompted state governments to adopt new, and improve existing, practices. Yet there has

I present a new framework for qualitative assessment of the current green purchasing practices of U.S. state governments. Increasing demand from citizens for green public purchasing has prompted state governments to adopt new, and improve existing, practices. Yet there has been little assessment of public green purchasing in academic research; what has been done has not provided the conceptual support necessary to assess green purchasing practices as a single component of the procurement process. My research aims to fill that gap by developing a conceptual framework with which to assess the status of green purchasing practices and by applying this framework to determine and describe the status of green purchasing in the five most populous U.S. states. The framework looks at state purchasing practices through the lenses of policy, policy implementation, and transparency.

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Date Created
2012

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A framework for supporting organizational transition processes towards sustainable energy systems

Description

Economic development over the last century has driven a tripling of the world's population, a twenty-fold increase in fossil fuel consumption, and a tripling of traditional biomass consumption. The associated broad income and wealth inequities are retaining over 2 billion

Economic development over the last century has driven a tripling of the world's population, a twenty-fold increase in fossil fuel consumption, and a tripling of traditional biomass consumption. The associated broad income and wealth inequities are retaining over 2 billion people in poverty. Adding to this, fossil fuel combustion is impacting the environment across spatial and temporal scales and the cost of energy is outpacing all other variable costs for most industries. With 60% of world energy delivered in 2008 consumed by the commercial and industrial sector, the fragmented and disparate energy-related decision making within organizations are largely responsible for the inefficient and impacting use of energy resources. The global transition towards sustainable development will require the collective efforts of national, regional, and local governments, institutions, the private sector, and a well-informed public. The leadership role in this transition could be provided by private and public sector organizations, by way of sustainability-oriented organizations, cultures, and infrastructure. The diversity in literature exemplifies the developing nature of sustainability science, with most sustainability assessment approaches and frameworks lacking transformational characteristics, tending to focus on analytical methods. In general, some shortfalls in sustainability assessment processes include lack of: * thorough stakeholder participation in systems and stakeholder mapping, * participatory envisioning of future sustainable states, * normative aggregation of results to provide an overall measure of sustainability, and * influence within strategic decision-making processes. Specific to energy sustainability assessments, while some authors aggregate results to provide overall sustainability scores, assessments have focused solely on energy supply scenarios, while including the deficits discussed above. This paper presents a framework for supporting organizational transition processes towards sustainable energy systems, using systems and stakeholder mapping, participatory envisioning, and sustainability assessment to prepare the development of transition strategies towards realizing long-term energy sustainability. The energy system at Arizona State University's Tempe campus (ASU) in 2008 was used as a baseline to evaluate the sustainability of the current system. From interviews and participatory workshops, energy system stakeholders provided information to map the current system and measure its performance. Utilizing operationalized principles of energy sustainability, stakeholders envisioned a future sustainable state of the energy system, and then developed strategies to begin transition of the current system to its potential future sustainable state. Key findings include stakeholders recognizing that the current energy system is unsustainable as measured against principles of energy sustainability and an envisioned future sustainable state of the energy system. Also, insufficient governmental stakeholder engagement upstream within the current system could lead to added risk as regulations affect energy supply. Energy demand behavior and consumption patterns are insufficiently understood by current stakeholders, limiting participation and accountability from consumers. In conclusion, although this research study focused on the Tempe campus, ASU could apply this process to other campuses thereby improving overall ASU energy system sustainability. Expanding stakeholder engagement upstream within the energy system and better understanding energy consumption behavior can also improve long-term energy sustainability. Finally, benchmarking ASU's performance against its peer universities could expand the current climate commitment of participants to broader sustainability goals.

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2011

From reactive to proactive: creating a governance system for negotiating local and regional climate change mitigation interventions

Description

Growing concerns over climate change and the lack of a federal climate policy have prompted many sub-national organizations to undertake greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation actions on their own. However, the interventions associated with these efforts are typically selected in a

Growing concerns over climate change and the lack of a federal climate policy have prompted many sub-national organizations to undertake greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation actions on their own. However, the interventions associated with these efforts are typically selected in a top-down and ad hoc manner, and have not created the desired GHG emissions reductions. Accordingly, new approaches are needed to identify, select, develop, and coordinate effective climate change mitigation interventions in local and regional contexts. This thesis develops a process to create a governance system for negotiating local and regional climate interventions. The process consists of four phases: 1) mapping the overall transition, 2) reconstructing the current intervention selection system, 3) assessing the system against principles identified in the literature, and 4) creating an improved system based on the assessment. This process gives users a detailed understanding of how the overall transition has progressed, how and why interventions are currently selected, what changes are needed to improve the selection system, and how to re-structure the system to create more desirable outcomes. The process results in an improved system that relies on participation, coordination, and accountability to proactively select evidence-based interventions that incorporate the interests of stakeholders and achieve system-level goals. The process was applied to climate change mitigation efforts underway in Sonoma County, California to explore the implications of real-world application, and demonstrate its utility for current climate change mitigation efforts. Note that results and analysis from interviews with Sonoma County climate actors are included as a supplementary file.

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2012

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The interpersonal determinants of green purchasing: an assessment of the empirical record

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This study investigates how well prominent behavioral theories from social psychology explain green purchasing behavior (GPB). I assess three prominent theories in terms of their suitability for GPB research, their attractiveness to GPB empiricists, and the strength of their empirical

This study investigates how well prominent behavioral theories from social psychology explain green purchasing behavior (GPB). I assess three prominent theories in terms of their suitability for GPB research, their attractiveness to GPB empiricists, and the strength of their empirical evidence when applied to GPB. First, a qualitative assessment of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Norm Activation Theory (NAT), and Value-Belief-Norm Theory (VBN) is conducted to evaluate a) how well the phenomenon and concepts in each theory match the characteristics of pro-environmental behavior and b) how well the assumptions made in each theory match common assumptions made in purchasing theory. Second, a quantitative assessment of these three theories is conducted in which r2 values and methodological parameters (e.g., sample size) are collected from a sample of 21 empirical studies on GPB to evaluate the accuracy and generalize-ability of empirical evidence. In the qualitative assessment, the results show each theory has its advantages and disadvantages. The results also provide a theoretically-grounded roadmap for modifying each theory to be more suitable for GPB research. In the quantitative assessment, the TPB outperforms the other two theories in every aspect taken into consideration. It proves to 1) create the most accurate models 2) be supported by the most generalize-able empirical evidence and 3) be the most attractive theory to empiricists. Although the TPB establishes itself as the best foundational theory for an empiricist to start from, it's clear that a more comprehensive model is needed to achieve consistent results and improve our understanding of GPB. NAT and the Theory of Interpersonal Behavior (TIB) offer pathways to extend the TPB. The TIB seems particularly apt for this endeavor, while VBN does not appear to have much to offer. Overall, the TPB has already proven to hold a relatively high predictive value. But with the state of ecosystem services continuing to decline on a global scale, it's important for models of GPB to become more accurate and reliable. Better models have the capacity to help marketing professionals, product developers, and policy makers develop strategies for encouraging consumers to buy green products.

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2012

Facilitating phosphorus recovery through improved waste management

Description

Phosphorus (P) is an essential resource for global food security, but global supplies are limited and demand is growing. Demand reductions are critical for achieving P sustainability, but recovery and re-use is also required. Wastewater treatment plants and

Phosphorus (P) is an essential resource for global food security, but global supplies are limited and demand is growing. Demand reductions are critical for achieving P sustainability, but recovery and re-use is also required. Wastewater treatment plants and livestock manures receive considerable attention for their P content, but municipal organic waste is another important source of P to address. Previous research identified the importance of diverting this waste stream from landfills for recovering P, but little has been done to identify the collection and processing mechanisms required, or address the existing economic barriers. In my research, I conducted a current state assessment of organic waste management by creating case studies in Phoenix, Arizona and New Delhi, India, and surveyed biomass energy facilities throughout the United States. With participation from waste management professionals I also envisioned an organic waste management system that contributes to sustainable P while improving environmental, social, and economic outcomes.

The results of my research indicated a number of important leverage points, including landfill fees, diversion mandates for organic waste, and renewable energy credits. Source separation of organic waste improves the range of uses, decreases processing costs, and facilitates P recovery, while creating jobs and contributing to a circular economy. Food is a significant component of the waste stream, and edible food is best diverted to food banks, while scraps are best given to livestock. Biomass energy systems produce multiple revenue streams, have high processing capacities, and concentrate P and other minerals to a greater extent than composting. Using recovered P in urban agriculture and native landscaping results in additional benefits to social-ecological systems by improving food security, reducing the urban heat island effect, sequestering carbon, and enhancing urban ecosystems.

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Date Created
2016

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The post-consumer waste problem and extended producer responsibility regulations: the case of electronic toys in British Columbia

Description

Currently, consumers throw away products every day, turning those materials into waste. Electronic waste poses special problems when it is not recycled because it may contain toxic components that can leach into landfill surroundings and reach groundwater sources or contaminate

Currently, consumers throw away products every day, turning those materials into waste. Electronic waste poses special problems when it is not recycled because it may contain toxic components that can leach into landfill surroundings and reach groundwater sources or contaminate soil, and its plastic, metal, and electronic materials do not biodegrade and are lost rather than recycled. This study analyzes a system that attempts to solve the electronic post-consumer-waste problem by shifting the economic burden of disposal from local municipalities to producers, reducing its environmental impacts while promoting economic development. The system was created in British Columbia, Canada after the province enacted a recycling regulation based on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a policy strategy that is fast growing globally. The BC recycling regulation requires all e-toy corporations in BC to comply with a government-approved product-stewardship program to recover and dispose of e-toys after they have been discarded by consumers. In response to the regulation, e-toy corporations joined a Canadian non-profit entity that recycles regulated waste. I conducted a case study using in-depth interviews with the stakeholders to identify the outcomes of this program and its potential for replication in other industries. I derived lessons from which corporations can learn to implement stewardship programs based on EPR regulations. The e-toy program demonstrated that creating exclusive programs is neither efficient nor economically feasible. Corporations should expect low recycling rates in the first phases of the program implementation because EPR regulations are long-term strategies. In order to reach any conclusions about the demand of consumers for recycling programs, we need to measure the program's return rates during at least three years. I also derived lessons that apply to the expansion of EPR regulations to a broader scope of product categories. The optimal way to expand EPR policy is to do it by gradually adding new product categories to the regulation on a long-term schedule. By doing so, new categories can take advantage of existing stewardship programs and their infrastructure to recover and recycle the post-consumer products. EPR proved to be an effective option to make corporations start thinking about the end of life of their products.

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Date Created
2014

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Uncovering relationships between sustainable business practice bundles, organizational culture, and performance

Description

Corporations work to reduce their negative impacts on the environment and society by adopting Sustainable business (SB) practices. Businesses create competitive advantages via practices such as waste minimization, green product design, compliance with regulations, and stakeholder relations. Normative models

Corporations work to reduce their negative impacts on the environment and society by adopting Sustainable business (SB) practices. Businesses create competitive advantages via practices such as waste minimization, green product design, compliance with regulations, and stakeholder relations. Normative models indicate that businesses should adopt similar sustainability practices, however, contingency theory suggests that effectiveness of practices depends on the context of the business. The literature highlights the importance of organizational culture as a moderating variable between SB practices and outcomes, however this link has not been empirically examined. This thesis presents the development and testing of a theoretical model, using configuration theory, that links SB practices, organizational culture, and financial performance.

Published frameworks were utilized to identify SB practices in use, and the Competing Values Framework (CVF) to identify dimensions of culture. Data from 1021 Corporate Sustainability Reports from 212 companies worldwide was collected for computerized text analysis, which provided a measure of the occurrence of a specific SB practice and the four dimensions of the CVF. Hypotheses were analyzed using cluster, crosstab, and t-test statistical methods.

The findings contribute significant insights to the Business and Sustainability field. Firstly, clustering of SB practice bundles identified organizations at various levels of SB practice awareness. The spectrum runs from a compliance level of awareness, to a set of organizations aware of the importance of culture change for sustainability. Top performing clusters demonstrated different priorities with regards to SB practices; these were in many cases, related to contextual factors, such as location or sector. This implies that these organizations undertook varying sustainability strategies, but all arrived at some successful level of sustainability. Another key finding was the association between the highest performing SB practice clusters and a culture dominated by Adhocracy values, corroborating theories presented in the literature, but were not empirically tested before.

The results of this research offer insights into the use of text analysis to study SB practices and organizational culture. Further, this study presents a novel attempt at empirically testing the relationship between SB practices and culture, and tying this to financial performance. The goal is that this work serves as an initial step in redefining the way in which businesses adopt SB practices. A transformation of SB practice adoption will lead to major improvements in sustainability strategies, and subsequently drive change for improved corporate sustainability.

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2017

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Assessing the Development of Key Competencies in Sustainability

Description

Making significant progress on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs change agents equipped with key competencies in sustainability. While thousands of sustainability programs have emerged at various educational levels over the past decade, there is, as of yet, no

Making significant progress on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs change agents equipped with key competencies in sustainability. While thousands of sustainability programs have emerged at various educational levels over the past decade, there is, as of yet, no reliable way to assess if these programs successfully convey key competencies in sustainability. This dissertation contributes to addressing this gap in three ways. First, it reviews the body of work on key competencies in sustainability. Based on broad agreement around five key competencies as well as an emerging set of three, an extended framework is outlined that can be used as unified set of learning objectives across sustainability programs. The next chapter reviews the scholarly work on assessing sustainability competencies. Based on this review, a typology of assessment tools is proposed offering guidance to both educators and researchers. Finally, drawing on experience of the four-year “Educating Future Change Agents” project, the last chapter explores the results from a diverse set of competency assessments in numerous courses. The study appraises assessment practices and results to demonstrate opportunities and challenges in the current state of assessing key competencies in sustainability. The results of this doctoral thesis are expected to make a practical and scholarly contribution to the teaching and learning in sustainability programs, in particular with regards to reliably assessing key competencies in sustainability.

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Date Created
2020

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Training Future Entrepreneurs – Developing and Assessing Sustainability Competencies in Entrepreneurship Education

Description

Employee-owned businesses, benefit corporations, social enterprises, and other sustainability entrepreneurship innovations are responding to challenges such as climate change, economic inequalities, and unethical business behavior. Academic programs to date, however, often fall short in sufficiently equipping students with competencies in

Employee-owned businesses, benefit corporations, social enterprises, and other sustainability entrepreneurship innovations are responding to challenges such as climate change, economic inequalities, and unethical business behavior. Academic programs to date, however, often fall short in sufficiently equipping students with competencies in sustainability entrepreneurship – from a coherent set of learning objectives, through effective and engaging pedagogies, to rigorous assessment of learning outcomes. This dissertation contributes to bridging these gaps. The first study proposes a process-oriented and literature-based framework of sustainability entrepreneurship competencies. It offers a general vision for students, faculty, and entrepreneurs, as well as for the design of curricula, courses, and assessments. The second study presents an exploration into the nature of sustainability entrepreneurship courses, with a focus on teaching and learning processes. Using pioneering courses at Arizona State University, the study analyzes and compares the links between learning objectives, pedagogies, and learning outcomes. Based on document analysis and semi-structured interviews with course instructors, the study identifies cognitive apprenticeship from input processing to experimentation, constructive alignment from learning objectives to assessments, and curriculum-level coordination across courses as key success factors of sustainability entrepreneurship education. The result of this study can inform instructors and researchers in applying and further substantiating effective educational models for future entrepreneurs. The third study addresses the key question of competence assessment: what are reliable tools for assessing students’ competence in sustainability entrepreneurship? This study developed and tested a novel tool for assessing students’ competence in sustainability entrepreneurship through in-vivo simulated professional situations. The tool was in different settings and evaluated against a set of criteria derived from the literature. To inform educators in business and management programs, this study discusses and concludes under which conditions this assessment tool seems most effective, as well as improvement for future applications of the tool.

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2020