Finding Purpose: Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling

March 9, 2016

Finding Purpose: Environmental Stewardship as a Personal CallingHoffman

By: Erb Faculty Member, Andrew Hoffman

Book description: Both thoughtful and thought-provoking, Finding Purpose aims to challenge our understanding of how humanity interacts with planet Earth, and our role within this. This book is an invitation: would you like to participate in one of the most important projects of imagination, perhaps the greatest ever, in human history? Distilling and refining over 20 pieces from a lifetime of work in academia and trade, across speeches, blogs, editorials and essays, Hoffman invites us to look beyond material growth and explore the role of the individual and business in discovering a wider purpose to bring about a balanced and sustainable society.

The reader is encouraged to consider humanity’s relationship with the environment through different lenses: business, academia, faith-based and cultural. By bringing them together, Hoffman encourages us to understand our relationship with the planet in a far more holistic sense.

Drawing on ideas from philosophy, literature, natural sciences and politics, Hoffman ensures that the ideas he explores are wholly accessible and applicable. Fully substantiated through various research and examples, the issues described are consistently made relevant to the reader.

Finding Purpose is the perfect book for anyone – from student to CEO – thinking about their place in the world, and how making changes in our own lives and societies can impact on the world around us.


This book has been featured in:

Institutional Theory and the National Environment: Research in (and on) the Anthropocene

March 24, 2015

By: Andrew Hoffman and P. Devereaux Jennings

Published in Organization & Environment, March 2015

Abstract: This review article summarizes some of the main tenets of institutional theory as they apply to the domain of organization and the natural environment (O&NE). But it is distinctive from other reviews for two reasons: first, it is focused on providing avenues for research in the Anthropocene Era. Second, while based on the trajectory of current, accumulated theory and research, this paper is forward-looking in its orientation, guiding future work to explore the emergence of a new social reality in Anthropocene Society. We begin with a summary of scientific research on the Anthropocene Era, then move to its implications for grand and mid-range institutional theory principles. We then discuss how institutional research might be used to inform societal recognition, transition and response to the Anthropocene shift, and conclude with a call to re-energize and re-radicalize the O&NE field to properly address the magnitude and scope of this shift.

Institutional Theory and the National Environment: Research in (and on) the Anthropocene (pdf) or read it online.

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate

February 25, 2015

Book Cover (1)How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate

By: Graham Sustainability Institute Education Director and Former Erb Faculty Director, Andrew Hoffman Stanford University Press, 2015

Book description: Though the scientific community largely agrees that climate change is underway, debates about this issue remain fiercely polarized. These conversations have become a rhetorical contest, one where opposing sides try to achieve victory through playing on fear, distrust, and intolerance. At its heart, this split no longer concerns carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, or climate modeling; rather, it is the product of contrasting, deeply entrenched worldviews. This brief examines what causes people to reject or accept the scientific consensus on climate change. Synthesizing evidence from sociology, psychology, and political science, Andrew J. Hoffman lays bare the opposing cultural lenses through which science is interpreted. He then extracts lessons from major cultural shifts in the past to engender a better understanding of the problem and motivate the public to take action. How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate makes a powerful case for a more scientifically literate public, a more socially engaged scientific community, and a more thoughtful mode of public discourse.


Interview on the cultural schism of climate change:

Interview with St. Gallen Forum for Management of Renewable Energies – May 22, 2015


Teaching session at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto – December 18, 2015


Teaching session at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment – March 3, 2016

This book has been featured in:

  • Stanford Briefs – August 2015 Review: How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate (pdf)
  • Environmental Values (2016) – Review of How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate, 25(3): 371-372 (pdf)

Working Paper: The Fourth Wave, Management Science and Practice in the Age of the Anthropocene

January 29, 2015

By: Andrew J. Hoffman and John R. Ehrenfeld

ABSTRACT: Sustainability has become mainstream in both management practice and management research. Firms incorporate sustainability strategies into their core mission. University administrators promote sustainability as central to their curricula. Scholars pursue sustainability as a bona fide field of research inquiry. Given this level of attention and action, the world should be on the road to a sustainable future. But it is not. Environmental and social problems continue to get worse. This paper presents a model for understanding the progression of punctuated social change within the market that has taken us to the present reality, moving through three waves from 1970 to the present. We then present an assessment of where we may be going in the fourth wave, a punctuated shift that is predicated on the notion that we are now living in the Anthropocene, a new geologic epoch in which human activities have a significant impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. We present six elements of change within management systems that are reflected in the Anthropocene: systems thinking, which leads to new forms of: partnerships, materials use and supply chains, domains of corporate activity, organizations, and the economic models and metrics that are used to measure them.

Read more: The Fourth Wave, Management Science and Practice in the Age of the Anthropocene (pdf) or read it online


This working paper has been featured in:

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability

January 27, 2015

Lauded by Sustainable Brands as a top sustainability book in 2014

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability
John R. Ehrenfeld and Andrew J. Hoffman
April, 2013
Stanford University Press, 144 pages

Flourishing invites you into a conversation between a teacher, John R. Ehrenfeld, and his former student now professor, Andrew J. Hoffman, as they discuss how to create a sustainable world. Unlike virtually all other books about sustainability, this one goes beyond the typical stories that we tell ourselves about repairing the environmental damages of human progress.   Read More  / On Amazon

This book was a finalist for the Best Book Award from the Social Issues in Management Division of the Academy of Management.

Working Paper: Guilt by Association: The Cost of Corporate Social Responsibility and Activist Pressure after a Catastrophe

January 9, 2015

By: Susan Kayser, Erb Institute Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Michigan

Abstract: Catastrophes increase pressure upon all firms within the industry. However, certain firms risk larger punishments after the event. I posit that firms with substantive corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives will lose more firm-value after a catastrophe because they will be expected to engage in costly self-regulation to lessen pressure on the industry. I also argue that due to strategic activist targeting, firms subject to greater past activism will lose more firm-value. I develop my hypotheses by combining theories on the reputation commons problem, the value of CSR, and social movements. Using an event-study, I examine the apparel industry after the collapse of Rana Plaza. Results indicate that firms with substantive CSR initiatives and firms subject to greater activism lost more firm-value after the collapse. Read the working paper here (pdf) or online here.

Experimental departures from self-interest when competing partnerships share output

October 21, 2014

erb-fundedexperimentPaper published in Experimental Economics by Josh Cherry, Stephen Salant (Erb Faculty Affiliate) and Neslihan Uler with a grant from the Erb Institute.

Experimental departures from self-interest when competing partnerships share output (pdf)

Hoffman paper wins Organization and Environment best paper award

August 8, 2014

The Erb Faculty Director, Andrew Hoffman, received the Organization and Environment best paper award at the 2014 Academy of Management Conference.

“Talking past each other? Cultural framing of skeptical and convinced logics in the climate change debate.” The paper, which first appeared in Organization and Environment in March 2011, looks at the logic and arguments of the two main groups in the climate change debate and analyzes why the groups have been unable to meet eye to eye.
Read More. 

Universal truths: can universally held cultural values inform the modern corporation?

July 25, 2014

Former Erb Post-Doc Judith Walls and Harry Triandis published a paper in Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal on the universal cultural values of health, well-being, longevity and environmental preservation and discusses challenges with upholding these values in social organizations.

Universal truths: can universally held cultural values inform the modern corporation? (pdf) or read it online.

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

July 24, 2014

The Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities: Strategies, Methods and Outlook, edited by Hilda Blanco and former SNRE Dean, Dan Mazmanian, provides social, economic, political and environmental policy strategies for cities striving to advance in sustainability.

Included is a co-authored chapter, From information provision to participatory deliberation: engaging residents in the transition toward sustainable cities by Erb Research Management Fellow, Kim Wolske and Erb Faculty Affiliate, Michaela Zint. Also included, chapters from Erb Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Laurie Nijake, A systems approach towards sustainable procurement, and Erb Faculty Affiliates Greg Keoleian and Josh Newell in the co-authored chapter, Sustainability strategies for consumer products in cities.

This book can be purchased here.