Creating Sustainable Organizations in a Globalizing World: Integrating Anthropological Knowledge and Organizational Systems Theory

By Kimberly Porter Martin.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The challenges of the future involve the integration of peoples and cultures into a world society totally different from anything ever imagined in the past. Researchers and practitioners from the fields of business, management and leadership have proposed a giant shift from “command and control” organizations to those based on chaordic and systems theory paradigms. However, examples of this paradigm come mostly from modern western industrialized societies. What happens when we take these models out into the wide world of international cultural diversity? Anthropologists have studied a wider variety of strategies for accomplishing organizational goals in a wider variety of cultures than members of any other discipline. Anthropological evidence and perspectives on social and cultural sustainability and change have enormous potential for understanding what organizational principles will and will not work as we move from nation states to a global society. This paper proposes that anthropological data and theory supports the systems theory and chaordic organizational models as the most sustainable types of organizations for a global society. It also points out the kinds of “cultural infrastructure” that must be built into global society before this kind of organization can flourish.

Keywords: Anthropology, Systems Theory, Chaordic Organizations, Culture Change, Globalization, Sustainable Organizations

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.67-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 514.121KB).

Dr. Kimberly Porter Martin

Professor of Anthropology, Sociology and Anthropology Department, University of La Verne, La Verne, California, USA

Dr. Kim Martin earned a B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University, an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Martin's areas of specialization include cognitive and psychological anthropology, gender, intercultural communication, ethnic identity and group affiliation, the U.S., Europe, Mesoamerica and the Pacific. Her current interests involve theory as it applies to identity and affiliation in a globalizing world. Her most recent fieldwork focused on how ethnic identity is constructed by Europeans in the era of the European Union. Dr. Martin teaches a variety of anthropology and student research courses. In 1996, she received the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from the University of La Verne. She has also served as a multicultural consultant, leading workshops for educational, government and professional organizations.


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