Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyze the preparation of a sustainability report and a large‐scale energy‐saving campaign with regards to their role for organizational learning (OL). Similar processes indicating OL were observed during the implementation of both projects. Along the lines of a theoretical framework of OL these processes will be discussed. Potential of institutional transformation regarding sustainable development is indicated. Design/methodology/approach – Following calls for “unified theory” on OL which can be used for empirical research, an integrative perspective has been proposed. Based on this perspective, two projects are discussed with respect to five dimensions in the process of OL: actors and media as communicative characteristics and triggers, factors as well as results as information processing characteristics. Findings – The results show the driving role of making data available to the public (transparency as incentive for organizational change) and the need to change structures for cross‐linking information. Furthermore, benefits of creating new networks of actors for reflecting current structures and developing visions for future change are outlined. Practical implications – Possibilities for transferring the project designs and experiences to other institutions are shown. Need for further research on the mechanisms of OL for promoting structural change toward a stronger role of sustainability in higher education is indicated. Originality/value – The perspective of OL for sustainability reporting and energy saving offers new perspectives for internal change processes triggered by sustainability related projects. Promising research opportunities on triggers and drivers of such processes evolve.
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 25, 2007
Keywords: Learning organizations; Sustainable development; Universities; Energy management
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