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Sustainable Development
in Business Networks -
The Ecology of Dialogue and
Narratives in Management
Dr. Olaf Brugman
#ISSS2017 - 11 July 2017 -Vienna
Photo: Olaf Brugman ©
Introduction
Finance
Sustainable
Business
Dialogue Narratives
Networks
Develop-
ment
Collabor
ative
Source: Stafford Beer/Malik Management
Are we in control...on time?
Global Warming
not exceeding
+1.5 C
Eradicate hunger
and poverty
Stable
Financial
System
Renewable
Energy
Social Justice
and stability
Better
Business?
Partnership Rabobank - WWF
Dialogue put into action
Source: www.rabobank.com, 10 -07-2017
Crop - Livestock Farming
Integration project - Brazil - #SDG17
Photo: Olaf Brugman
Photo: Olaf Brugman
Roundtable on Responsible Soy - Multi-
Stakeholder Dialogue and Organisation
• Leading standard for responsible
production and trade of soybeans

• Legal compliance, fair labour
conditions, environmentally
responsible, continuous
improvement

• Only multi-stakeholder standard
for deforestation-free soybeans
production

• Reduction of agrochemicals

• Responsible sourcing for food
brands and retailers
Photo: RTRS
Photo: RTRS
Dialogue experiences
• Knowledge and
learning-oriented

• Critically cooperative

• Schismogenetic activism

Narratives:
is business the problem
or the solution?
“Who is right?”
“It depends on who says so”
Narrative 1:
Business is
the problem
Narrative 2:
Business is
the solution
Agree? Disagree? Agree to disagree?
Narrative 1:

Business is the problem
• Adverse impacts: indifference or
inability to correct
• Skewed distribution of power and
wealth
• Affected stakeholders not heard
• Lack of information
• Sensory or motor impairments
• Planetary boundaries
• External effects not priced Social Complexity. Art by Vilma Machado ©
Narrative 2:

Business is the solution
• Business can and should improve
sense of purpose, awareness,
commitments, policies,
management systems,
performance
• Do business responsibly
• Big data, artificial intelligence:
know more, do more
• Engage the issues better than
walking away
• Stakeholder dialogues and
partnership
Forest Souls. Art by Vilma Machado ©
- Fredmund Malik -
In: Corporate Policy and Corporate Governance, 2013
“Sustainability is defined as
the attempt to determine
time horizons for
thinking, decision-making and action”
Approaches to Sustainable Development
12
Corporate

Governance
Stakeholder

Dialogue
Managerial

Cybernetics
Leadership

Effectiveness

Accountability

Remuneration

Shareholders

(e.g., Corporate
Governance
Codes)
Communication

Dialogue

Consultation

Consensus

Cooperation

(e.g., GIZ,
Wageningen UR)
Control-focused
Scientific
Model-based
Knowledge
Recursiveness
Effective
Organization
(e.g., VSM Model)
Voluntary

Standards
Design

Norms

Uniformity

Industry reference

In or Out

(e.g. OECD, UN
Global Compact,
supply chains)

ESG rating
External
Expert
Judgment
Social
Environmental
Governance
(e.g., Oekom
Research,
Sustainalytics)
Systems approach offers comprehensive control-
concept based on all aspects of organisation
Approach Aims to regulate Aimed at
Includes all aspects
of organisation?
Corporate
Governance
Leaders &
Shareholder
interests
Accountability

Transparency
No
Stakeholder
Dialogue
Conversation &
Consensus
Conflict reduction

Consensus
No
Voluntary
Standards
Process & output of
value chains
Conformity

Transparency
No
ESG Ratings —
Transparency

Third parties
No
Managerial
Cybernetics
Control capacity
Model of effective
organisation
Yes
13
How to learn?
• Control depends on Model-Knowledge

• Knowledge-Meaning-Narratives-Scenarios for action: context-bound

• Different observers observe different things, patterns, differences

• Listen, understand what people need

• To change requires:

• Change context/perspective

• Change language

• Change structure of system (e.g. S1-2-3-4-5 of Viable System Model)

• Change (perspective of) observer

• Change the (perceived) facts (invoke science;“the map is not the territory”)
23
Conclusions
• Learning is finding the
pattern that connects to
stay viable
• Dialogue is the way to
boost learning (increase
variety)
• Narratives pass on
simplified thoughts (variety
reduction)
• The Ecology of Dialogue-
Learning-Narratives
functions at individual and
social systems level
Interactions. Art by Vilma Machado ©

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ISSS2017 Vienna Brugman Sustainable Development in Business Networks

  • 1. Sustainable Development in Business Networks - The Ecology of Dialogue and Narratives in Management Dr. Olaf Brugman #ISSS2017 - 11 July 2017 -Vienna Photo: Olaf Brugman ©
  • 3. Are we in control...on time? Global Warming not exceeding +1.5 C Eradicate hunger and poverty Stable Financial System Renewable Energy Social Justice and stability Better Business?
  • 4. Partnership Rabobank - WWF Dialogue put into action Source: www.rabobank.com, 10 -07-2017
  • 5. Crop - Livestock Farming Integration project - Brazil - #SDG17 Photo: Olaf Brugman Photo: Olaf Brugman
  • 6. Roundtable on Responsible Soy - Multi- Stakeholder Dialogue and Organisation • Leading standard for responsible production and trade of soybeans • Legal compliance, fair labour conditions, environmentally responsible, continuous improvement • Only multi-stakeholder standard for deforestation-free soybeans production • Reduction of agrochemicals • Responsible sourcing for food brands and retailers Photo: RTRS Photo: RTRS
  • 7. Dialogue experiences • Knowledge and learning-oriented • Critically cooperative • Schismogenetic activism Narratives: is business the problem or the solution?
  • 8. “Who is right?” “It depends on who says so” Narrative 1: Business is the problem Narrative 2: Business is the solution Agree? Disagree? Agree to disagree?
  • 9. Narrative 1: Business is the problem • Adverse impacts: indifference or inability to correct • Skewed distribution of power and wealth • Affected stakeholders not heard • Lack of information • Sensory or motor impairments • Planetary boundaries • External effects not priced Social Complexity. Art by Vilma Machado ©
  • 10. Narrative 2: Business is the solution • Business can and should improve sense of purpose, awareness, commitments, policies, management systems, performance • Do business responsibly • Big data, artificial intelligence: know more, do more • Engage the issues better than walking away • Stakeholder dialogues and partnership Forest Souls. Art by Vilma Machado ©
  • 11. - Fredmund Malik - In: Corporate Policy and Corporate Governance, 2013 “Sustainability is defined as the attempt to determine time horizons for thinking, decision-making and action”
  • 12. Approaches to Sustainable Development 12 Corporate Governance Stakeholder Dialogue Managerial Cybernetics Leadership
 Effectiveness
 Accountability
 Remuneration
 Shareholders (e.g., Corporate Governance Codes) Communication Dialogue Consultation Consensus Cooperation (e.g., GIZ, Wageningen UR) Control-focused Scientific Model-based Knowledge Recursiveness Effective Organization (e.g., VSM Model) Voluntary Standards Design Norms Uniformity Industry reference In or Out (e.g. OECD, UN Global Compact, supply chains) ESG rating External Expert Judgment Social Environmental Governance (e.g., Oekom Research, Sustainalytics)
  • 13. Systems approach offers comprehensive control- concept based on all aspects of organisation Approach Aims to regulate Aimed at Includes all aspects of organisation? Corporate Governance Leaders & Shareholder interests Accountability Transparency No Stakeholder Dialogue Conversation & Consensus Conflict reduction Consensus No Voluntary Standards Process & output of value chains Conformity Transparency No ESG Ratings — Transparency Third parties No Managerial Cybernetics Control capacity Model of effective organisation Yes 13
  • 14.
  • 15.
  • 16.
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19.
  • 20.
  • 21.
  • 22.
  • 23. How to learn? • Control depends on Model-Knowledge • Knowledge-Meaning-Narratives-Scenarios for action: context-bound • Different observers observe different things, patterns, differences • Listen, understand what people need • To change requires: • Change context/perspective • Change language • Change structure of system (e.g. S1-2-3-4-5 of Viable System Model) • Change (perspective of) observer • Change the (perceived) facts (invoke science;“the map is not the territory”) 23
  • 24. Conclusions • Learning is finding the pattern that connects to stay viable • Dialogue is the way to boost learning (increase variety) • Narratives pass on simplified thoughts (variety reduction) • The Ecology of Dialogue- Learning-Narratives functions at individual and social systems level Interactions. Art by Vilma Machado ©