Communication for Sustainable Development: Engaging scholars for transforming society

Closes:

Introduction

Communication is critical for our understanding of global challenges and the need for sustainable development. Communication is also a prerequisite for creating large scale organizational and societal change.

Communication is critical for understanding the needs for change, to develop change initiatives and to implement change in organizations and societies. How we communicate about change is decisive for how we perceive the need for change and what actions we perform. Leadership is inextricably linked with communication, since communication enables leaders to motivate and inspire – or to rule and divide. Theory on the communicative constitution of organizing illustrates that communication processes including conversations, meetings, texts, messages, information, meaning, and media shape the creation of organizational objectives and collective action. This is important because business-as-usual is inadequate for creating meaningful sustainable development. Further, corporations are working toward sustainable goals through changing their mode of operations from philanthropic activities to addressing complex pressing global issues ranging from environmental pollution to work policies for employees. Contributing to sustainable development is helps businesses build trusting relationships with publics and stakeholders. By employing the knowledge on how to use strategic communication to form relations with publics and stakeholders, organizations can increase consciousness of social and environmental issues, and sustainable options, and influence behaviors.

Communication is also fundamental for increasing knowledge about new innovations, sustainable solutions, and research results that can be implemented in practice. Communication campaigns are crucial for informing the general public, engaging with them, raising awareness, and ultimately working toward organizational and societal changes that support sustainability.

The 27th annual conference of the International Sustainable Development Research Society, ISDRS, for the first time included a track on Communication for Sustainable Development. The track invited scholars from different disciplines to present and discuss research focusing on the role of communication in relation to sustainable development.

This special issue will include high quality research papers from the conference, but is also open for scholars to address the role of communication to meet the challenges of the transformation into a more sustainable society. Communication scholars have an important role in counteracting social and environmental crises in developing and developed countries and provide knowledge that contributes to social transformation and sustainable development.

The urgency of the need to research, understand and contribute the transformation into a more sustainable society has been emphasized by the UN, through the 17 Sustainable Development goals, and UN Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO).

 

Potential topics and themes

• Change communication. Communication is critical for understanding the needs for change, to develop change initiatives and to implement change in organizations and societies. How we communicate about change is decisive for how we perceive the need for change and what actions we perform.

• Leadership communication. Leadership is inextricably linked with communication, since communication enables leaders to motivate and inspire – or to rule and divide.

• CCO theory. Theory on the communicative constitution of organizing illustrates that communication processes including conversations, meetings, texts, messages, information, meaning, and media shape the creation of organizational objectives and collective action. This is important because business-as-usual is inadequate for creating meaningful sustainable development. Corporations work toward sustainable goals by addressing complex and pressing global issues.

•  Stakeholder communication. Contributing to sustainable development helps businesses build trusting relationships with publics and stakeholders. By employing the knowledge on how to use strategic communication to form relations with publics and stakeholders, organizations can increase consciousness of social and environmental issues, and sustainable options, and influence behaviors.

• Communication for innovation and transformation. Communication is fundamental for increasing knowledge about new innovations, sustainable solutions, and research results that can be applied to practice. Communication campaigns are crucial for informing the general public, engaging with them, raising awareness, and ultimately working toward organizational and societal changes that support sustainability.

We favor a broad range of subjects in this special issue, and welcome research from all perspectives: critical, postmodern, interpretive and post-positivist. We urge researchers studying organizational communication, strategic communication, public relations, environmental communication, health communication, media and communication, journalism, but also from other disciplines, to submit manuscripts to make a difference.

 

Submission Guidelines for Quick Reference 

Full papers will receive one double-blind external expert review as well as one review by the guest editors. A maximum of eight articles will be published in the special issue.

 

Key Dates

  • Deadline for submission of manuscripts: 1st July 2022

 

Guest Editors

Queries relating to the special issue should be directed to the Guest Editors:

Catrin Johansson (PhD in Media and Communication) is Professor of Organizational Communication in the Department of Media and Communication at Mid Sweden University: [email protected]

Jody Jahn is Associate Professor in Communication at University of Colorado, Boulder (PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara): [email protected]

Wim J.L. Elving is Professor of Sustainable Communication at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and member of the Centre of Expertise, EnTranCe: [email protected]

 

References

Benn, S., & Baker, E. (2009). Advancing Sustainability Through Change and Innovation: A Co-evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Change Management, 9(4), 383-397. doi:10.1080/14697010903360574

Cyphert, D. (2021). From Product to Process: The Rhetoric of Sustainability and Evolving Management Practice. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 2329490620987835. doi:10.1177/2329490620987835

Dash, A. K., & Dash, R. K. (2021). Environmental and sustainability campaigns: a case study of India's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (2014–2019). Journal of Communication Management, 25(4), 385-400. doi:10.1108/JCOM-07-2020-0072

Mitra, R., & Fyke, J. (2017). Purpose-driven consultancies’ negotiation of organizational tensions. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 45(2), 140-159. doi:10.1080/00909882.2017.1288290

Mitra, R., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2017). Implementing Sustainability in Organizations: How Practitioners Discursively Position Work. Management Communication Quarterly, 32(2), 172-201. doi:10.1177/0893318917724234

Nicholson, J., & Kurucz, E. (2019). Relational Leadership for Sustainability: Building an Ethical Framework from the Moral Theory of ‘Ethics of Care’. Journal of Business Ethics, 156(1), 25-43. doi:10.1007/s10551-017-3593-4

Thaker, J. (2020). Corporate communication about climate science. Journal of Communication Management, 24(3), 245-264. doi:10.1108/JCOM-06-2019-0092

Touboulic, A., & Walker, H. (2016). A relational, transformative and engaged approach to sustainable supply chain management: The potential of action research. Human Relations, 69(2), 301-343. doi:10.1177/0018726715583364