Management Seminars: Simon Parker

11 October 2016, 4.00 PM - 11 October 2016, 5.30 PM

Dr Simon Parker (CASS Business School)

G.15, 15-19 Tyndall's Park Road, BRISTOL BS8 1PQ

Title:  Investment in sustainability: The role of fantasy, affect and identification in a sustainable organization


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability have regularly been understood as concepts that mostly have an external focus and concern customers, suppliers and local communities. Recently, however, research has pointed to the internal role CSR and sustainability play in attracting and engaging employees. In this paper I draw on an ethnographic study of a sustainable financial services firm where this attraction and engagement was very evident. I ask the question: what structures, reinforces and develops this affinity? In answering this question, I draw upon the theoretical concepts of fantasy, affect and identification. In so doing I show how the attractiveness of sustainability relies on horrific fantasies pertaining to the end of the world as well as a shared fantasies aiming to stop this eventuality. The core contribution of this paper is to show that even in an organization that is obsessed with sustainability and a better world, elements of the horrific find a way to creep inside causing anxiety and fear for those over-invested in a particular vision of the future.

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