Working the system—An empirical analysis of the relationship between systems thinking, paradoxical cognition, and sustainability practices

Meike Nicole Schulte, Cody Morris Paris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Sustainability is an inherently complex problem. Often, a reductionist mindset underpins corporate sustainability practices. Understanding the collective impact of systems thinking and paradoxical cognition on sustainability practices could foster new cognitive strategies for sustainability efforts. Informed by stakeholder theory, this study investigates the impacts of systems thinking and paradoxical cognition on sustainability practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Primary data was collected through a survey of SME managers in the United Arab Emirates (n = 554), and the hypothesized model was analyzed using structural equation modelling. The findings imply that systems thinking, paradoxical thinking, and the ability to recognize paradoxical tensions positively influenced sustainability practices. The study's findings offer novel insights advocating for the integration of cognitive frameworks and sustainability practices in the context SMEs, highlighting the need for a shift from traditional linear management approaches to more adaptive and integrative strategies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management
Early online date29 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • complexity
  • corporate sustainability
  • dynamic systems
  • interconnectivity
  • paradoxical tensions
  • wicked problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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