Key challenges to the corporate biospherestewardship research program: inequity, reification, and stakeholder commensurability

Stefano Longo, Ellinor Isgren, Richard York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We highlight important assumptions associated with the research program in sustainability science developed around “corporate biosphere stewardship” and the promise of “science-business initiatives.” In doing so, we interrogate a central concept in this research, “keystone actors.” We analyze the program based on associated research outputs and communications, focusing on three key challenges 1) inequities related to the concentration of political-economic power 2) concerns with naturalizing social processes, or reification,and 3) the limitations of characterizing corporations as commensurable stakeholders in sustainable development. This research program has revealed some important conditions and dynamics in relation to consolidation and concentration in global industries. However, it has been limited by insufficient integration of knowledge from social science, particularly sociology. Thus, the approach tends to undertheorize social dynamics, processes, and structures. Despite being framed as an effort at “improving the prospects for transformative change,” the implications, outcomes, and recommendations that emerge from this research program may inadvertently promote increased control and power of elite actors by presenting an ostensible inevitability of corporate dominance for bringing about social welfare and sustainability. We suggest greater attention to social structural dynamics, and particularly social struggles and social movements, when considering the potential for transformational change for sustainability
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalGlobal Sustainability
Volume5
Issue numbere9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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