The Impact of Withdrawing a Structured Initiative Aimed at Engaging Departments in Sustainable Activities, at a UK University

  • Sally R. LampkinEmail author
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


This paper investigates the impact on departmental engagement in sustainable activities following the withdrawal of a structured campus-wide initiative at a UK university, 20 months after it had been introduced. The research questions included: What changes did the initiative bring? What, if anything, replaced the influential factors once the initiative was withdrawn? What has been the impact on engagement since the withdrawal? How did people perceive changes to the engagement level? What or who has been critical to any successes? What factors are most likely to influence engagement positively in the future? The study compared and contrasted academic departments and support services. Some predictable results were found, along with quite surprising ones such as the impact of losing recognition and support for undertaking activities and of copying the behaviour of others. Communication, co-ordination and the provision of authority were found to play key roles. There are case-studies in the literature examining sustainability initiatives in the workplace; few, however, report the impact of withdrawing a scheme less than 2 years after its introduction.


Engagement Sustainability University Framework Communication Coordination 


  1. Bandura A (1977) Self-efficacy—toward a unifying theory of behavioural change. Psychol Rev 84(2):191–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blau PM (1964) Exchange and power in social life. TransactionGoogle Scholar
  3. Campbell JL (2007) Why would corporations behave in socially responsible ways? an institutional theory of corporate social responsibility. Acad Manage Rev 32(3):946–967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deci EL, Ryan RM (1985) Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. Plenum Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Deci EL, Ryan RM (2000) The “what” and the “why” of goal pursuits: human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychol Inq 11:227–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Defra (2007) A framework for pro-environmental behaviours: a report by the behaviours unit. Defra, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Eden S, Bear C, Walker G (2008) Understanding and (dis)trusting food assurance schemes: consumer confidence and the ‘knowledge fix’. J Rural Stud 24:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldstone RL, Gureckis TM (2009) Collective behavior. Top Cogn Sci 1:412–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haidt J, Seder P, Kesebir S (2008) Hive psychology, happiness, and public policy. J Leg Stud 37:S133–S156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hargreaves T (2011) Practice-ing behaviour change: applying social practice theory to pro-environmental behaviour change. J Consum Cult 11(SI):79–99Google Scholar
  11. Homans George (1961) Social behavior: its elementary forms. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Kennedy J (2009) Social optimization in the presence of cognitive local optima: effects of social network topology. Top Cogn Sci 1(3):498–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kiron D, Kruschwitz N, Haanaes K, von Steng Velken I (2012) Sustainability nears a tipping point. MIT Sloan Manage Rev 53(2):69–74Google Scholar
  14. Moser SC (2006) Talk of the city: engaging urbanites on climate change. Environ Res Lett 1:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC (1983) Stages and processes of self-change of moking: toward an integrative model of change. J Consult Clin Psychol 51(3):390–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Saks AM (2008) The meaning and bleeding of employee engagement: How muddy is the water? Indus Organ Psychol Perspect Sci Pract 1(1):40–43Google Scholar
  17. Taylor A, Cocklin C, Brown R (2012) Fostering environmental champions: a process to build their capacity to drive change. J Environ Manage 98(1):84–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bristol Business SchoolThe University of the West of EnglandBristolUK

Personalised recommendations