Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 73–90 | Cite as

Driving Water Management Change Where Economic Incentive is Limited

  • Matthew EganEmail author


The maintenance of safe and reliable water supplies presents a challenge for communities across the world. This paper responds by exploring how five large food and beverage producing organisations operating in Australia were able to develop some focus on water management at a time of acute drought. Despite weak economic and regulatory drivers, a heterogeneous range of responses was developing across all five organisations. Drawing on Laughlin’s (Organ Stud 12(2):209–232, 1991) model of organisational change, we argue that each reshaped or developed archetypes and subsystems to enable a focus on improving efficiencies. Some were motivated by little more than compliance and so the extent of change was limited. A sense of community pressure was able to drive some change to interpretive schemes in two of the five organisations. Broad cultural change, supported by clear board level mandate, became critical to the survival of new practices. We also demonstrate that management level staff with a passion to champion water efficiency can be instrumental in driving change. This paper contributes to our understanding of water management, and to the factors needed to embed developing practice.


Water efficiency Water management Sustainability Organisational change Champions 



The author gratefully acknowledges Professors John Roberts, Geoff Frost, James Guthrie, and Chris Nobes for their guidance.

Ethical Standards

This study draws on data collected from interviews with a range of staff from five case study organisations. Approval for conducting these interviews was obtained from the appropriate university ethics committee. All interviews have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Discipline of AccountingThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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