Managing the Anthropocene: relational agency and power to respect planetary boundaries

Pasi Heikkurinen, Stuart Clegg, Ashly H. Pinnington, Katerina Nicolopoulou, Jose M. Alcaraz

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Abstract

This article examines how agency should be conceptualized to manage the pressing problems of the Anthropocene in support of sustainable change. The article reviews and analyzes literature on agency in relation to planetary boundaries, advancing the relational view of agency in which no actors are granted a primary ontological status, and agency is not limited to humans but may be attributed to other actors. This understanding of agency can effectively contribute to sustainable organizations; on the one hand, it enables non-anthropocentrism and on the other hand, admits that networks bind actors. We conclude that boundary blurring (between actors) and boundary formation (between actors and networks) are complementary processes. Consequently, relationality is proposed as an applicable means of respecting planetary boundaries, while recognizing that all action flows through circuits of power whose obligatory passage points are the major conduits for intervention. Intervention occurs through regulation and nudging action such as ecotaxation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization & Environment
Early online date17 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • agency
  • Anthropocene
  • boundaries
  • power
  • responsibility
  • relational
  • sustainability

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