Scaling Up Community Action for Tackling Climate Change

Published date01 April 2018
Date01 April 2018
British Journal of Management, Vol. 29, 266–278 (2018)
DOI: 10.1111/1467-8551.12274
Scaling Up Community Action for Tackling
Climate Change
Deirdre Shaw, Andrew Cumbers, Robert McMaster and John Crossan
Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, West Quadrangle, Gilbert Scott Building, Glasgow G12
Corresponding author email:
Tackling climate change requiresa set of deeply intertwined geographical responsibilities
whereby actors at and across dierentgeographical scales are intimately connected. Cre-
ating eective strategies requires far more than an invocation for individual behavioural
change in thinking globally and acting locally, but attention to the multi-scalar conflicts,
tensions and also opportunities to develop the most appropriate collective responses. In
this paper, we use the example of community gardening initiatives in a large UK city
to critically interrogate the problems facing groups at the local neighbourhood level in
pursuing sustainability agendas. We focus on the organizational imperative to create a
multi-scalar food policy partnership at the city level as a way of confronting dominant
global neoliberal urban competitiveness agendas. Our results emphasize the critical im-
portance of scalar politics in enabling eective climate change strategies.
Tackling climate change is a global problem that
involves a multi-layered set of ‘geographical re-
sponsibilities’, where the actions, relations and
practices of individuals and organizations act-
ing at and across dierent geographical scales,
from the local to the global, are intimately con-
nected (Massey, 2004). From the outset, address-
ing climate change has always been visualized as
a spatial and relational process (Massey, 2005),
through the invocation to ‘think global and act
local’ (e.g. Devine-Wright, 2013). Following those
that have highlighted the limitations of individ-
ual agency in addressing the immediate challenges
related to sustainability, this research focuses on
meso and macro actors (e.g. Carrington, Zwick
and Neville, 2016; Jones, 2010). Developing eec-
tive management initiatives at the local level must
go beyond changing individual behaviours to in-
stil a broader global consciousness (e.g. Black,
Shaw and Trebeck, 2017). This relates to collec-
Independent Researcher
tive agency at the local scale as well as broader
policy initiatives, such as smart metering, which
seek to significantly change consumer behaviour
(e.g. Hoenkamp, Huitema and de Moor-vanVugt,
2011). Local groups seeking to create eective
strategies and practices that can contribute to en-
vironmental sustainability have to negotiate dom-
inant agendas and actors across regional, national
and supranational scales to be eective.
Through a case study of community gardening
initiatives in a UK city, this paper uses a multi-
scalar approach to help understand the barriers
facing groups in pursuing sustainabilityagendas at
the neighbourhood level against the backdrop of
broader changes taking place in the city. There is
a growing literature on the potentially important
role that community gardens can play in sup-
porting sustainability and micro-climatic change
(Turner, 2011). However, in attempting to progress
a global agenda of local climate action, commu-
nity gardens confront a series of constraints to
action in their local neighbourhoods. Challenges
include security of land access, vulnerability to
potential commercial development and access to
C2018 British Academy of Management. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4
2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA, 02148, USA.

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