Scaling as an Organizational Method: Ethnographic Explorations of Two Danish Sustainability Organizations

Irina Papazu, Mette Nelund

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Organization studies have shown limited interest in the part that scaling plays in organizational responses to climate change and sustainability. Moreover, while scales are viewed as central to the diagnosis of the organizational challenges posed by climate change and sustainability, the role of scaling in meeting these challenges has not yet been recognized. By analysing two ethnographic case studies, conducted at Samsø Energy Academy and Farendløse Cider Works, respectively, the authors identify scaling as a core activity of the sustainability organization. The two organizations studied each situate their operations at the heart of the climate change problematic – one in organic farming, the other in renewable energy – and, employing what the authors term ‘the method of scaling’, they impose order on the world in which they operate. The method of scaling helps the organizations relate their actions to the ambiguous concepts of sustainability and climate change. The authors find that the two organizations’ scaling activities occur in three modes: rejection, innovation and conscious adoption of core concepts such as sustainability and climate change. These modes of scaling help organizations turn something as immense as the climate into a small and manageable problem, thus making abstract concepts part of concrete, organizational practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Volume29
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)252-265
Number of pages14
ISSN1045-3172
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

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