Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability

Document type: Monographs
Peer reviewed: No
Full text:
Author(s): Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Göran Broman, David Waldron, Henrik Ny, Sophie Byggeth, David Cook, Lena Johansson, Jonas Oldmark, George Basile, Hördur V. Haraldsson
Title: Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability
Translated title: Strategiskt ledarskap för hållbarhet
Year: 2004
Pagination: 354
Publisher: Department of Mechanical Engineering at BTH
City: Karlskrona
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Engineering - Dept. of Mechanical Engineering (Sektionen för ingenjörsvetenskap - avd. för maskinteknik)
School of Engineering S- 371 79 Karlskrona, School of Engineering S- 371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:,,,,,,,,
Language: English
Abstract: The Master's programme named "Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability" is offered at the Blekinge Institute of Technology (Blekinge Tekniska Högskola) in Karlskrona, Sweden.
This Master's programme builds on four central themes:
(1) four scientific principles for socio-ecological sustainability;
(2) a planning methodology of "backcasting" based on those scientific principles for sustainability;
(3) a five-level model for planning in complex systems, into which backcasting is incorporated as a strategy; and
(4) the understanding that within basic scientific constraints, creativity is allowed and encouraged.

This course book focuses mainly on the description of a structured approach to sustainable development and is the primary reference for the Master's programme within this scope. The text revolves around a generic, structured model for planning and decision-making in any complex system, recognizing that the key focus for sustainability, human society within the biosphere, is inherently a complex system. As such, the text describes five essential system levels including: (i) the system; (ii) success; (iii) strategy; (iv) actions and (v) tools. Within this 5-level model, the approach “backcasting from principles of socio-ecological sustainability” provides a solid basis for strategic sustainable development.
With respect to the second theme, the textbook emphasises that the basic constraints required by the structured approach (the 5-level model, backcasting, and scientific principles of sustainability) actually serve to promote creativity in ways that are productive and complementary to the goal of sustainability. Chapters 6-13, in particular, explore how this approach spurs innovation toward sustainable development in a number of selected disciplines (e.g. organisational learning, strategic business planning, industrial ecology, product development).

Course Book Chapter Layout

The introduction chapter presents all the core elements of the planning methodology named "Backcasting from Basic Socio-Ecological Principles of Sustainability". Part 1, of the book, containing the first four chapters, covers the next circle and goes deeper into the core elements without losing the overall structure. Part 2, containing the following nine chapters, takes a third, yet deeper, look at some related disciplines like basic science, social sustainability, organisational learning and change, industrial ecology, etc. (Circle 3). The whole idea of Backcasting from Principles is to create a meaningful structure of the overview, and only then tackle the details on a higher and higher degree of detail.
Subject: Mechanical Engineering\General
Keywords: sustainability, Strategic sustainable development, The Natural Step, planning, management systems
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