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Information systems and ecological sustainability

Adela J.W. Chen (Department of Management Information Systems, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Marie‐Claude Boudreau (Department of Management Information Systems, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Richard T. Watson (Department of Management Information Systems, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 21 November 2008

8027

Abstract

Purpose

There is a growing awareness by researchers and practitioners of organizations' ecological responsibilities. Past research in management suggests that it is important to develop ecological sustainability, a long‐missing piece of the sustainability puzzle, together with economic sustainability and social sustainability. However, little research has been conducted to explore how information systems (IS), as one of the defining technologies in human society, can help organizations develop ecological sustainability. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a conceptual model and propositions with regard to the roles of IS in the pursuit of ecological sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper focuses on how organizations are motivated to act in the same legitimate way (i.e. eco‐friendly way) and proposes institutional theory as a lens to better understand how IS can be leveraged to achieve the three milestones of ecological sustainability, i.e. eco‐efficiency, eco‐equity and eco‐effectiveness.

Findings

The model advocates that under different institutional pressures, IS can be leveraged to achieve eco‐efficiency, eco‐equity and eco‐effectiveness through automating, informating (up and down) and transforming organizations, respectively. Research limitations/implications – The paper calls for the incorporation of the dimension of natural environment into our framework for future investigation of the IS roles in organizations.

Practical implications

The paper highlights the importance for practitioners to understand the environmental impact of the IS that they design or use, and the roles that IS can play in facilitating the large‐scale learning about ecological sustainability.

Originality/value

The implications of this research for both practice and academia are discussed, with a brief outlook towards future research.

Keywords

Citation

Chen, A.J.W., Boudreau, M. and Watson, R.T. (2008), "Information systems and ecological sustainability", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 186-201. https://doi.org/10.1108/13287260810916907

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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