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Title: Exploring the impact of power dynamics on sustainable value creation in a business ecosystem
Author: Brennan, Geraldine Teresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 5971
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2015
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The scale and urgency required to address the interconnected economic, environmental, and social challenges currently facing society is significant. Business increasingly looks to natural systems for inspiration, one example being codified in the circular economy discourse (CE). CE, based on a biological ecosystem analogy, emphasises creation of environmental and economic value from converting waste into a productive resource. What it disregards is the social dynamics of sustainable value creation within social systems, neglecting the role of power and influence in the discussion. Equally, a gap exists in the nascent literature on sustainable business models (SBMs) in respect of the social dynamics of value creation. The relationship dynamics enabling sustainable value creation need to be better understood and integrated with a perspective which takes the impact of power relations into account. This thesis seeks to contribute insights to the understanding of how power relations impact sustainable value creation. To address these gaps, an analytic framework of organizational influence is developed. It draws on a resource based approach to power-dependency, based on Margaret Archer’s (1995) concepts of first and second order power and her distinction between structural and cultural resources. It also integrates Emerson’s (1962) emphasis on both relative power differentials and the degree of dependency in exchange relationships. This framework is used to interpret qualitative data gathered from Adnams Plc., a UK brewery and sustainability pioneer. A case study is developed based on observation and semi-structured interviews related to 30 inter-organizational relationships within Adnams’ business ecosystem. The findings have theoretical implications for the strategic management and sustainability literature, particularly the SBM literature, resource dependence theory (RDT) and the CE discourse. This research illustrates the importance for organizational actors to consider the power relations within inter-organizational relationships when developing sustainable value creation strategies.
Supervisor: Tennant, Mike Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ; Climate KIC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral