HIEST seminar 15 Nov 2023: Jiawen Wu

The evolution of sustainability practices in Finnish and Swedish business schools: an investigation of organizational culture, individual agency and organizational structure

In RUU E314 Isa; to attend online please register here.

Presentation summary:

This project aims to explore the evolution of sustainability practices within business schools by investigating the influence of individual agency and organizational structure in Finnish and Swedish contexts. While business schools are proactively contributing to responsible management education under sustainability initiatives, there have been doubts about whether the adoption of sustainability in Nordic HEIs is a symbolic or concrete action style (Stensaker & Hermansen, 2023). Therefore, it is essential to investigate sustainability practices and their evolution. In this project, the inquiry on practices is examined through the intricate dynamics between individual agency and organizational structure (Giddens, 1984). To comprehensively grasp the dynamics of sustainability practices evolution, this investigation bifurcates into an analysis of the existing structure and the conceptualisation of individual agency on sustainability in the RME context. In the end, the emergent structure is examined to draw lessons on the evolution of sustainability practices in business schools. A multiple case studies approach is used to deeply understand such dynamics in Finnish and Swedish contexts.

This talk aims to present the outcomes of the first article of the project. It addresses the question of how organizational myth is conveyed by cultural meaning on sustainability practices through reporting in the responsible management education context. This study utilizes the concept of myth to reveal organizational structure and management towards sustainability by means of sustainability reporting in the business schools. The aim is to understand responsible management education from an organizational structure perspective. The cultural meaning with mythical elements conveyed from the reports are used to connect structural and managerial issues. Regionally, Finland and Sweden representing the Nordic perspective on sustainability are playing an exemplary role in the management education community. Selected soft-type sustainability reports published by Finnish and Swedish business schools are examined to discuss myth and mythical elements. The soft-type reporting functioning as storytelling and mythologizing provide a cultural communication among readers and authors, which expresses the meaning construction of stakeholders towards sustainability in business schools. This study highlights that myth plays a critical role in understanding cultural communication and meaning to promote responsible management education. Through the intermediary role of culture reflected from the soft-type reports, structure is alternatively understood by myths both arising in the institutional environment (external) and organizational culture (internal). Moreover, the organizational recipes with mythical elements provide managerial implications for sustainability practices from schools’ soft-type reports.

Presenter info:

Jiawen Wu (wuj@student.jyu.fi) is a PhD researcher from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. His research interest is organization of higher education, responsible management education studies, cultural perspective, and agency perspective. Before starting the PhD study, he has obtained three master degrees: in administrative sciences (Erasmus Mundus program: MARIHE), social sciences (JYU, Finland), and laws (SHNU, China).