What I’m Working On

This short piece profiling my research appeared in the Australian Financial Review BOSS magazine in February last year:
Image: Louise Kennerley
Image: Louise Kennerley

I’m leading a research project examining how Australian businesses are responding to climate change. We’re focusing on how corporations are changing in response to regulatory, reputational and physical risks. These adjustments include new products and services, the measurement and reduction of emissions, pricing of carbon risk in investments and developing green organisational cultures. These are fundamental shifts.

The research originated from a pilot study. We interviewed 40 sustainability managers about their activities and attitudes relating to climate change. We found that environmental sustainability promoted strong emotions and that recognising and harnessing them was central to being a “green change agent”. Emotions provide the scaffolding for decision making and are central to motivation and commitment to action. This finding challenges the conventional business persona idea of the cool professional, untainted by subjective perceptions and feelings.

One of the best examples of this is where leaders explain the need for change by tapping into their organisation’s emotional identity. When GE chief Jeff Immelt launched his “ecomagination” strategy in 2005, he highlighted how the company was returning to its manufacturing roots, creating new technology to solve the world’s renewable energy needs. It’s been a highly successful strategy and a powerful example of how innovative companies are identifying not only the risks but also the opportunities of climate change.

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