The Dance Within: A New Perspective to Tackle Sustainability Challenges

ACC Marques, Marja Flory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Humanity lives in a unique moment, a time of sustainability challenge so complex that it can influence all life on the planet. This sustainability challenge is manifested in many interdependent crises such as global warming, biodiversity loss, hunger and poverty, drinking water scarcity, land conflicts, decreasing social trust and institutional failure. In this study, we have presented the difficulties in achieving good results in sustainability challenges, through analyzing the flaws of two main sustainability concepts. We have interviewed people with an aim to understand their definition of sustainability and whether they consider it important. We found that there is no clear-cut definition for sustainability available; all interviewees in our study used different definitions of sustainability. Also, the motives given by the interviewees in terms of the importance of sustainability varied through their answers. However, these differences in responses were inherently related to the levels of consciousness reported by constructive developmental theory. We analysed the interviewees’ answers thoroughly and found moments of clarity amongst the answers. We concluded that the understanding of complex sustainability challenges is related to the level of complexity of peoples’ mindset, i.e., their levels of consciousness. Thus the moments of clarity are part of a journey that leads to the development of consciousness. Finally, in this study we encourage researchers and managers to view sustainability as more than the technical challenges it presents; to view it as a path to consciousness development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12000
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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