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Using social sustainability principles to analyse activities of the extraction lifecycle phase: Learnings from designing support for concept selection
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8829-1719
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5822-5152
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9110-6497
2017 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 140, no 1, p. 267-276Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Analysing product concepts with respect to social sustainability is a contemporary challenge for which there is little support available for product developers. Our aim was to build on previous work to support product developers in a case company with this challenge. We designed a first prototype of support for product developers to use a previously developed definition when analysing the extraction lifecycle activities associated with their product concepts. The prototype instructs users to model the location of the extraction activities and then use existing databases and indicators to analyse the social sustainability performance of each location. The databases and indicators were selected according to their relevance to scientific principles for social sustainability. We then performed initial evaluation of the support, through which we learnt that the approach may make it possible for product developers to analyse extraction activities, but the level of accuracy of analysis that is possible is not good enough for comparing the concepts in the case study decision. We discuss the implications of these challenges and suggest that it may be better to re-design our approach in order to provide learningful support for product developers or support for other decision-making in the company.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017. Vol. 140, no 1, p. 267-276
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-12921DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.08.004ISI: 000388775100025OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-12921DiVA, id: diva2:953433
Projects
Model driven development and decision support
Funder
Knowledge FoundationAvailable from: 2016-08-17 Created: 2016-08-17 Last updated: 2018-09-20Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The missing pillar: exploring social sustainability in product development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The missing pillar: exploring social sustainability in product development
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Companies are increasingly pressed to consider sustainability aspects when making decisions during product development. However, the methodological support for doing so is immature. The immaturity is particularly pronounced regarding the social dimension (or pillar) of sustainability and regarding strategic sustainability considerations. The overall aim of this thesis was to explore how the social dimension of sustainability and a strategic sustainability perspective could be better included in methodological support for product development. This was pursued in two ways.

 

Firstly, a two-staged review of the literature was conducted. Stage one focused on summarizing the state of the art of integration of social sustainability aspects in product development and stage two focused on critically analyzing and evaluating these efforts. The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development was used to guide the analysis of the current integration efforts and the evaluation of their potential for supporting sustainable product development and strategic sustainable development in general. Secondly, a recently published principled definition of social sustainability was used to enhance two approaches for including sustainability considerations in product development. One of these approaches is focused on decision-making support at concept selection, based on assessment and comparison of sustainability implications of the considered product concepts. The other approach is focused on developing sustainability criteria and a related sustainability compliance index in support of concept development.

 

In the literature review, social life cycle assessment methods (Social LCA) were found to represent a large part of the current efforts, and several challenges with those methods were identified. From a decision support perspective, they were found to have weaknesses regarding applicability and robustness: results from the assessment, usually performed by scientists to evaluate a scientific question, may be too complex to interpret from a business standpoint; the impact perspective may be too narrow, missing important aspects of social sustainability; and generally they lack a strategic perspective. The use of a strategic sustainable development perspective in the approaches prototyped in this thesis is a way of tackling these challenges. The use of backcasting from visions framed by sustainability principles can: help organize and make sense of the general field of sustainability, highlighting where overlaps between objectives exist; provide the long term perspective needed for sustainability; allow for product developers to gain awareness of potential impacts of a product’s life cycle phases within existing knowledge, time and resource constraints; help build a roadmap in order to reduce a product’s contribution to unsustainability (including social unsustainability).

 

Future research will focus on further testing and development of the suggested approaches and specifically on further development of tactical design guidelines that provide support for the fulfilment of long-term sustainability criteria and clarify the connection between decisions taken during product development and a product’s sustainability profile.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2016
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertation Series, ISSN 1650-2140 ; 4
Keywords
strategic sustainable development, social sustainability; sustainable product development, social lifecycle assessment, social sustainability criteria
National Category
Engineering and Technology Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-13248 (URN)978-91-7295-331-4 (ISBN)
Presentation
2016-11-09, J1650, Campus Gräsvik, Karlskrona, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-10-13 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-11-03Bibliographically approved
2. The individual human side of supporting sustainable design beginners
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The individual human side of supporting sustainable design beginners
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Starting to include sustainability considerations in a design project is a transition requiring a change in how things are done, that is, a change in behaviour. Furthermore, this transition takes place in the midst of the usual pressures of product design. Prior research on sustainable design has mostly explored the so-called technical side – identifying what tasks should be performed, such as specifics of including sustainability criteria when analysing product concepts. However, this has not been enough. These tasks are not being performed to the extent that they could, or that is needed. Recent studies have advocated the consideration of the human nature of the people who are to execute these ‘technical’ tasks. In other words, there is a need to work with the socio-psychological factors in order to help sustainable design beginners to adopt new mindsets and practice (their usual way of doing design).

My aim was therefore to investigate how to support individual product design team members with the human aspects of transitioning to executing sustainable design. In particular, I focused on supporting good individual decision-making and individual behaviour change. This aim was addressed through multiple research projects with four partner companies working with the early phases of product design. Given a focus to change practice, I followed an action research approach with a particular emphasis on theory building. This action research approach comprised two phases: understanding the challenge and context, and then iteratively developing solutions through a theorise–design-act-observe-reflect cycle.

Through the research projects, my colleagues and I found that there are challenges related to behaviour change and decision-making that are hindering execution of sustainable design. In order to help organisations to overcome or avoid these challenges, we found that it may be beneficial for those developing sustainable design tools and methods to (i) use techniques to mitigate for cognitive illusions, (ii) provide individuals with the opportunity to implement sustainable design while helping those individuals to increase their motivation and capability to execute sustainable design, and (iii) communicate with these individuals in such a way as to avoid triggering psychological barriers (self-defence mechanisms). I combined these points into two models.

Together with the partner organisations, we applied the two models to design some actions that we then tested. The actions included integrating behaviour change and decision-making considerations into sustainable design tools as well as stand-alone interventions in the culture.

Given the findings of these studies, I urge developers of sustainable design tools to see implementation of their tool as a learning journey. The beginning of the journey should comprise small steps supported by handrails, which then increase in size and decrease in support as the journey continues. Especially in the beginning, tool developers will also need to help travellers to avoid the decision-making errors that occur due to being in unfamiliar territory.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlskrona: Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 2018
Series
Blekinge Institute of Technology Doctoral Dissertation Series, ISSN 1653-2090 ; 9
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:bth-16972 (URN)978-91-7295-357-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-19, J1650, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, 371 79 Karlskrona, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2018-09-10 Created: 2018-09-06 Last updated: 2018-09-28Bibliographically approved

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Gould, RachaelMissimer, MerlinaLagun Mesquita, Patricia

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