Publication Date

1998

Abstract

The primary purpose of this paper is to do an analysis of the first two years of the Earth Council with regards to whether its operation is consistent with the basic ideas and practices of sustainable development. The main question to be answered is whether the Earth Council reflects the movement that it is promoting. In order answer the main question for this paper, two primary focus points are considered. First, what is the sustainable development movement about? Second, is the movement reflected in the Earth Council? An evaluation of these two focal points of the analysis will be combined with an organizational analysis of the Earth Council, as they are two aspects of the responsibilities of the Council. The first framework outlined is the theoretical evolution of the sustainable development paradigm. The history of economic development as a concept is laid out, along with the emergence of ideas, new and established, of sustainability. An understanding of the evolving field of economic development is crucial in order to understand the Earth Council’s mission. The other framework important to Earth Council potential is the organizational context. The non-profit perspective is presented, outlining those elements crucial to a successful non-profit institution. For a better understanding of whether the Earth Council is in fact accomplishing what it had defined for itself, I combine the two frameworks. This paper contains an evaluation of how the Earth Council’s organizational context fits into the sustainable development model in practice. The Earth Council is based on the traditional secretariat hierarchical model, which includes a concentration of resources, information access and power in the upper echelons of the organization. This paper emphasizes the elements essential to sustainable development in practice, such as power-sharing, participatory decision-making, free information flow, a multi-disciplinary approach to expand from the traditional economic development, and an awareness of the interdependence of man and his environment. Following this is an outline of ideas for restructuring the organization with this new combination of perspectives (both frameworks in one organization). This is followed by a conclusion, along with ideas for further research.

Disciplines

Organizational Behavior and Theory

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