Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness

Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness (OSE) highlights research and practice aimed at understanding how organizations and more inclusive systems of actors develop a continuous, unfaltering focus on sustainability. OSE examines how they organize to achieve expanded purposes, the associated changes in purpose and governance, relationships among various stakeholders, boundaries between organizations and other elements of the environment in which they operate. The series also considers organizational systems and processes, leadership, competencies and capabilities. Thus ‘sustainability’ is seen as entailing a continuous dynamic adaptive process in people, organizations and systems, striving to be as proactive as possible, moving ‘upstream’ in improving and developing organizational processes and issues.

The series examines organizing for sustainability in a manner that enables us to see actors—organizations and individuals--in their context. A sustainability perspective by definition requires all actors to focus on their overall impact on the eco-system in which they operate and on which they depend for survival through time. This is a tall order for mankind, given centuries of organizing for local optimization and a global economy that has been guided by the pursuit of wealth, often at the expense of social and ecological concerns. The complexity perspective helps us understand that focusing on the expanded set of outcomes implied to achieve sustainability through time by necessity requires new ways of relating and inter-operating with other actors in the eco-system. We cannot fully understand models of sustainable performance by simply focusing on single organizations and conceiving of them solely as resource-acquiring and wealth-accruing input/output systems. Although clearly each organization has to get its house in order in order to be sustainable, it will do this by arriving at new understanding of its purposes in contributing to sustainable environments in which to function, and by interrelating in new ways with customers, communities, regulators, suppliers, employees and even competitors in a manner that enables the eco-system to be healthy.

The research reported in this series focuses on the fundamental elements of organizing for sustainability, focusing on the full set of design choices and interactions that characterize the complex systems in which we are embedded as individuals and organizations. The aspect of the eco-system that differentiates human presence from the natural environment is our ability to learn and invent. We therefore can change our way of being in the environment more quickly than would be the case if change required biological evolution and natural selection. In generating knowledge about how to organize for sustainability, we have to look at the ways we learn and invent solutions, and particularly on the ways we organize so both will happen. How individuals, organizations, groups of organizations, networks, and communities are setting up processes to learn to operate in a sustainable manner will be a major focus of the book series.

To submit a proposal to this series, please contact the series editors via email:

Susan A. Mohrman
Center for Effective Organizations, University of Southern California, USA

Abraham B. (Rami) Shani
California Polytechnic State University, USA

Chris Worley
Center for Effective Organizations, University of Southern California, USA

All titles in the series